Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has hit out at the ‘childish mistakes’ from his side during their defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The Blaugrana were downed 3-2 by Diego Simeone’s side in Thursday night’s semi-final of the revamped competition, which is controversially being staged in Saudi Arabia this year for the first time.
It was widely regarded as one of Barca’s strongest performances in recent months – with the side leading 2-1 going into the final ten minutes and also having a further two goals annulled by the VAR technology.
But Alvaro Morata’s penalty in the 81st minute levelled the tie before Angel Correa netted a dramatic late winner for Atleti, who will now meet city rivals Real Madrid in Sunday’s showpiece.
“We need to try and continue playing as well as we did today for the rest of the year but make sure we don't make the childish errors we made today,” Messi told reporters, via Reuters.
“We controlled the game for around 80 minutes, we played at a high pace, we attacked all the time and created lots of chances. But in the last 10 minutes we made big and we let a game slip which we had under control.”
Messi also once more voiced his support for under-fire boss Ernesto Valverde: “We still have confidence in him and we will work hard so we can improve.
“But it's normal that there is discontent when there's a defeat and people feel the team is not playing as they would like.
“We have to be more united than ever, be a strong group and move forward. We are top of La Liga but we have not been playing well recently so we are going to try and recover our best play so we can stay at the top.”
There have been reports that Barcelona have met with former club captain Xavi Hernandez in Qatar – where he is managing – regarding a possible future return to the Camp Nou.