Tour de four-ce - Knives out for Barca boss after Paris routSports | 16 Feb 2017
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique floundered in the firing line after what he called a "disastrous" 4-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain left the Spanish champions on the brink of their earliest Champions League exit in a decade.
Enrique confronted a television reporter working for Catalan station TV3 after the last-16, first-leg clash at Parc des Princes, while his tactics were criticized by Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.
Barcelona sports daily Sport's front cover said "this is not Barca," while Madrid-based AS's headline ran "total disaster."
Former Madrid striker Angel di Maria came back to haunt Barca, scoring twice on his 29th birthday, while further goals from Julian Draxler and Edison Cavani handed PSG the glorious European night they have craved since a takeover from Qatar Sports Investments six years ago. They will look to finish the job in the second leg at Nou Camp on March 8.
The joint heaviest defeat in Enrique's three seasons in charge means they face missing out on the quarter-finals for the first time since losing on away goals to Liverpool in the last 16 in 2006/07.
"It was a disastrous night for us in which we were clearly inferior," Enrique admitted.
"I accept responsibility, but I would also like the same respect and personal treatment in the interviews when we win," Enrique said in a fiery interview with TV3.
Enrique's future at the Nou Camp beyond the current campaign was already in doubt as his contract expires at the end of the season. Barcelona also trail Madrid in the race for the Spanish title.
And Busquets' praise for PSG manager Unai Emery and the tactical set- up that caught the Catalans cold was telling. "It wasn't an attitude problem, but a football one. They pressed more and were better tactically," Busquets said. "They had a plan and carried it out as they wanted."
Sport described Barca as a "shipwreck without a coach."
In its editorial, it said "Barca fell in Paris without grandeur and without excuses. It was a tumultuous fall, from the first minute to the last...more than an accident, it manifested itself as an aggravation of many problems, some latent and others evident, that had already been shown up throughout the season."
Enrique's preference for Portugal midfielder Andre Gomes has been a particular bug bear for the press. Gomes missed a huge chance to level with the score a 1-0 midway through the first half. He was the most expensive of six summer recruits costing over 120 million euros (HK$982.85 million) designed to add greater depth and more youth to the squad. Yet, none of them have made a significant impression with Barca still reliant on an ageing core of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Busquets alongside the star front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
"We could not have imagined a better evening," said di Maria. "It was the perfect match. But to go through we will need to play like this again because they are also capable of scoring four goals."
Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel blamed Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang's shocker in the 1-0 defeat to Benfica on a loss of fitness at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Tuchel hauled off Aubameyang moments after the Gabon striker missed a penalty in Lisbon. It was one of four clear chances spurned by Aubameyang.