Lionel Messi demands better from Barcelona after Athletic Bilbao draw

Barcelona suffer shock loss after crazy 68 seconds

La Liga champions Barcelona's domestic struggles continued as they dropped points for the third game in a row, drawing 1-1 at home to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday after Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets had begun the match on the substitutes' bench.

"It can't happen that we concede goals in every game, we must improve and become strong in the defensive area because that is the most important thing".

"We have the best player in the world but we can't depend on Leo coming on to sort things out", the Uruguayan said to reporters.

On Wednesday against Tottenham, coach Ernesto Valverde will not be helped by the absence of two first team defenders.

Luis Suarez said after the 1-1 draw: 'Messi is the best in the world but we can not depend on him coming on to provide a solution.

Predicted line-up against Liverpool: all change for Sarri?
They were very successful with [Antonio] Conte, so changing it that much is cool. "It's really impressive what he did so far". Because they are here because of what they did and now we have to work on that it fits.

It is clear now, just as it was last season, that the squad does not have enough world-class players to provide adequate cover for the main starters, so Valverde prioritising one competition over the other is completely understandable, but he cannot continue to stray away from what he had in mind in an attempt to keep up the pace in a competition he strolled to win last season, at the risk of hampering the squad's main aspiration this campaign.

The Catalans were playing a fourth game of a hectic spell of seven matches in 23 days and even though they drew 2-2 at home to Girona after Valverde rested players, the coach rotated his side again, bringing in Thomas Vermaelen for Alba to deploy an unfamiliar back three. "These results have been a shame, but we have to stay calm because it's a long season".

Leaders Barcelona and European champions Real Madrid both suffered shock La Liga losses on Wednesday, with bottom club Leganes and a rampant Sevilla playing starring roles. I know it's a risky decision [leaving Messi out]. "It's absolutely my responsibility".

Asked about Pique's focus, Valverde said, "I see that he is very focused on football". "We didn't expect them".

"It is a very hard group so we know we have to be at our best and move forward with calmness". We didn't create the chances we would have liked.

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