“It was one of our worst games in recent years. In Champions League duels, you have to show your best to succeed. We didn’t do that today, we didn’t play well,” Xavi’s AP agency quoted him as saying.
The match in Hamburg, where Shakhtar is playing home matches due to Russian military aggression in Ukraine, was decided by Danylo Sikan’s header from the 40th minute. Barcelona hit the post just once and lost for the second time in their last three competitive games after a 2-1 El Clásico defeat by Real Madrid. The Catalans thus did not follow up on the 2002/03 and 2020/21 seasons, when they managed the opening four matches of the group stage.
“We are not experiencing a successful period, we know that very well. It’s also about psychology, we are not focused, we don’t move well, we don’t manage to fulfill tactical tasks. We have to get together quickly and improve in all aspects,” said Xavi. “However, we still have everything in our hands and we can win the promotion already in the next round at home against Porto,” said the forty-three-year-old coach.
His side have nine points in Group H, the same as Porto, who beat Antwerp 2-0 at home on Tuesday. Shakhtar loses three points and is in the game for one of the two promotion spots.
“First of all I want to congratulate my players, they did a great job. I always say that if you want to attack, you have to know how to defend. We bounced back from a perfect defense today,” praised Shakhtar coach Marin Pušič after the surprising triumph, who led the team for the first time only two weeks ago during a 1:2 defeat in Barcelona. Since then, however, the Ukrainian champions have succeeded in all three competitive matches, and have not conceded.
“In the second half in Barcelona, we verified that we can play against them. Today we showed that they can be beaten,” added midfielder Heorhij Sudakov. In the next round, Shakhtar will welcome Antwerp again in Hamburg, who, as newcomers, are still waiting for their first points in the competition.