Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has brushed off complaints from the Manchester City camp about the refereeing in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first-leg by saying that "excuses are for losers."
City manager Manuel Pellegrini immediately blamed official Jonas Eriksson for his side’s 2-0 defeat to Los Blaugranas, with the Chilean coach unhappy with an alleged foul by Busquets on Jesus Navas in the lead-up to the incident which saw Martin Demichelis sent off and Lionel Messi put Barca ahead with a penalty.
The Catalan midfielder told reporters at the Camp Nou after training on Thursday morning that sometimes decisions can go either way, but in this case he had not done anything wrong.
"It has more repercussion when the referee favours us than when we are harmed," Busquets said. "But excuses are for losers. Sometimes [refs] take something from you, sometimes you benefit. For me I did not foul Navas, it is pretty clear."
Busquets had not expected City’s defensive lineup, with left-back Aleksandar Kolarov playing in midfield, but suggested Pellegrini had decided to be cautious given Barca were better than the teams City usually face in the Premier League.
"Kolarov on the wing was a surprise, but maybe in the English league it is easier for them, it is different in the Champions League," he continued. "It did not work out well for them, but neither was it a bad game from them. In the second leg for sure we will see a more attacking City. They need to score goals."
Barca’s recent excellent performances have come after coach Gerardo Martino stopped rotating his star midfielders, with Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez all starting at Eastlands. This helped their side to dominate possession throughout the game, something which Busquets says he welcomes.
"The team is in a good form," he said. "I hope the best is still to come. We have put together some good games in a row, and the result against City is good for our hopes in the Champions League. The last lineups have given a different touch to the team. It has been positive, having more possession, more players in the centre. We also have other variants."
Barca must now refocus attention on domestic action, as they face a tricky trip to Real Sociedad on Saturday. The Catalan side have not won at Anoeta since the Txuri-urdin returned to the top flight in 2010-11, suffering two defeats and a draw in their three La Liga visits.
Busquets said he was expecting a tough game, but Barca needed to win given they are only currently edging Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid by goal difference at the top of the table.
"It is a while since we won at Anoeta," he added. "It is always difficult, they are in good form. This is a vital game, knowing how La Liga is now. You know that a draw or a defeat hurts you a lot."