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COPA DEL REY

Messi absence no excuse for Barcelona defeat, says Suárez

Messi absence no excuse for Barcelona loss, says Suarez

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Luis Suárez would not blame the absence of Lionel Messi for Barcelona's 2-0 defeat to Sevilla in Wednesday's Copa del Rey quarter final first leg.

Lionel Messi being rested was not the reason why Barcelona slipped to a 2-0 defeat away to Sevilla in Wednesday's Copa del Rey quarter final first leg, says Luis Suárez.

Messi, who came off the bench to help Barça beat Leganés in LaLiga at the weekend, was left out of the squad by Ernesto Valverde for the trip to Seville, the Barça boss having an eye on next month's Champions League tie against Olympique Lyon. Second-half goals from Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder subsequently gave Sevilla victory, even though Valverde sent on Suárez, Philippe Coutinho and Jordi Alba as substitutes.

Ben Yedder makes it 2

Barcelona missing Messi magic

Barcelona have lost two of the eight games they have played without Messi this season in all competitions, compared to defeats in two out of 24 matches he has played. But Suárez would not blame Messi's absence for Barça losing, with the Copa del Rey holders also having to come from behind in the last round against Levante.

"Leo was not in other games and we took over the responsibility of the team and we took the games forward," Suárez said. "Today it was not an excuse, I hope Leo is in the second leg because he makes a difference. January is the most complicated month of all, the Cup is important but getting points in the league is an extra. And we must also think about the future of the Champions League We have plenty of players and spare enough to overcome."

Barça have it all to do in the return at Camp Nou.

Chances for everyone

Defender Gerard Piqué demurred when asked if Messi should play in next Wednesday's return leg. "We have a very competitive squad and the coach wants us all to participate," Piqué said. "The performance has been good but they have taken advantage of their chances. Messi in the return? It's the coach's decision".