Lionel Messi admitted that Barcelona had "a bad day" when losing 3-2 at home to Valencia on Saturday, while Javier Mascherano says the Catalan side need to have a deep think about what is going wrong after such a painful reverse.
Barca went 1-0 up early through Alexis Sanchez, but were set reeling by Dani Parejo's equaliser, and further goals by the visitors' Pablo Piatti and Paco Alcacer brought the shock result despite Messi's penalty briefly equalising things at 2-2.
The result ended Barcelona's record run of 59 consecutive game weeks on top of the Primera Division, with Atletico Madrid the new leaders and Barca and Real Madrid now joint second three points adrift of the top.
Messi said in comments picked up by his club's official website that Saturday's result had not been good, but he was personally happier now as the injury issues which had so affected his 2013 were now behind him.
“It was a very bad day,” Messi said. “[But] I am happy to have played a couple of games and I am doing well mentally. It was tough when I picked up two consecutive injuries, but today that is all forgotten.”
Mascherano was more analytical when talking on Barca TV the day after the game, saying a first home defeat since April 2012 had been painful and should provoke some deep thinking among the squad.
“It hurts a lot to lose the three points at home,” he said. “We have to change things so that what happened on Saturday will not happen again.”
The Argentina international also echoed blaugrana coach Gerardo Martino's claim postmatch that Barca should have killed the game off when they were 1-0 up and cruising in the first half, but then appeared to panic when Valencia managed to get back into the game.
“We should have been two or three up after half an hour,” he said. “The last 10 minutes of the first half and all of the second, things were different. We lost our shape and it really showed.”
Mascherano recalled that Barca's fate still remained in their own hands, with games against Madrid [in late March at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu] and Atletico [on the final day of the season at the Camp Nou] still to come.
“We still have to play our two closest rivals,” he said. “It is clear that the margin of error from now until the end of the season is practically zero. Now it is us who have to push on. We have to improve things but not send out negative messages. It is all in our hands, and we still have a chance in all three competitions.”