Rijkaard: Lack of focus not to blame for loss

April 27, 2008

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard dismissed any suggestion his side's focus was on Tuesday's Champions League showdown with Manchester United instead of Saturday's Primera Liga match with Deportivo La Coruna, which they lost 2-0.

Barca's hopes of pipping Real Madrid to the Primera Liga are now virtually over following Saturday's loss, where second-half goals from Depor duo Juan Rodriguez and Pablo Amo left Rijkaard's troops without a win in five league games.

Rijkaard was without a number of senior players for Saturday's match, with Samuel Eto'o, Lionel Messi and Xavi rested, Andres Iniesta and Gabriel Milito suspended and Ronaldinho injured.

Victor Valdes, Eric Abidal and Deco also started the game on the bench as Rijkaard opted to give a number of his fringe players a chance.

However, the Dutchman insists the Catalan giants were still fully concentrated on the clash at the Riazor and not on the United match, which is locked at 0-0 following the first leg.

Rijkaard said: 'No, the team was here. The defeat was the result of many factors: that we played another game a few days ago; the fact that there were a number of players on the pitch who lacked match-rhythm; the absence of some players...'

Rijkaard felt his makeshift side started well against Depor, although he admits the Galician outfit were better in the end.

'The first half was quite even, but in the second we half we have lowered our pace and they have taken advantage if it,' he said.

'Deportivo deserved the win, but we can still give more and win other games.'

The result at the Riazor means Barca have now gone three games without scoring, and Rijkaard concedes that is something they need to improve on.

'To win games you need to score goals and this has to be worked at. It is important that when you get a chance you score,' he said.

Barca goalkeeper Jose Pinto, who was making his debut for the Catalan giants after standing in for Valdes, feels his side now need to put the Depor result behind them and focus on Tuesday's Champions League encounter at Old Trafford.

'We are going away sad by the result, but we need to turn the page and go to England with all the desire in the world,' Pinto said.

'Deportivo played very well and they have made us feel very uncomfortable on the pitch. But attitude-wise we have been fine.'