Barcelona’s Alves blames fatigue for Spanish Cup loss

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Barcelona, Aug 18 (IANS) FC Barcelona defender Dani Alves has blamed last week’s gruelling UEFA Super Cup clash against Sevilla Football Club for the humiliation at the hands of Atletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana.

The Catalan giants were defeated 1-5 on aggregate by Bilbao after a 1-1 second leg draw at the Camp Nou on Monday. Bilbao had thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg last week. This was the first trophy for the Basque club in 31 years.

Argentine super star Lionel Messi had pulled a goal back for Barcelona in the first half. But a red card to defender Gerard Pique shortly after the break put paid to the hosts’ chances.

Dani however, said the La Liga champions were laid low by the energy sapping 120-minute duel with Sevilla – which the Catalans won 5-4 after extra time – and were not at their top physical shape against Bilbao.

“We paid the price for the European Super Cup match and didn’t have much time to prepare. There were all those things, but there is no place for excuses,” Dani told reporters after the match.

“Perhaps we didn’t get enough things right in the two games. Perhaps we didn’t compete as hard we can,” he added.

Pique was sent off in the 56th minute when he contested a decision by the assistant refferree. Dani felt that the incident affected Barcelona’s chances, but refused to put it up as an excuse for the defeat.

“Pique was furious about the situation,” the Brazilian side-back said. “The referee made a decision that did us damage, but that was no excuse either.”

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