Xavi Hernandez said Barcelona felt like they had been “robbed in their own home” after the Camp Nou was packed with Eintracht Frankfurt supporters in their Europa League defeat by the German side on Thursday.
More than 20 000 Frankfurt fans managed to get tickets for the second leg, with a sea of white shirts in the stands creating a hostile atmosphere for the Barca players.
Frankfurt took the lead in the fourth minute on their way to a 3-0 lead and while Barcelona pulled two goals back in injury-time they were unable to avoid losing 4-3 on aggregate.
“It’s not an excuse but the atmosphere affected us. We were not comfortable,” said Xavi in a press conference on Sunday. “I had a bad feeling from as soon as we got on the bus at the hotel and we did not feel at home.
“Then we gave a penalty away in the first minute,” Xavi added. “It was a nightmare night in every sense, on and off the pitch. It started badly and ended badly. You feel robbed in your own home.”
Barcelona officially allocated 5 000 tickets to Frankfurt supporters but more than 30 000 tickets were bought via unofficial channels.
The club’s president Joan Laporta said he was “ashamed” by the number of Frankfurt fans inside the ground and has insisted tickets will be non-transferable in future.
One Barca fan group, La Grada d’Animacio, has said they will boycott the team’s La Liga game on Monday at home to Cadiz in protest.
“It was a mistake by the club, for sure,” said Xavi. “When the club finds out what caused what happened on Thursday, they will explain it to us.”
The loss to Frankfurt was Barcelona’s first under Xavi since December and came after a last-gasp 3-2 victory over struggling Levante in La Liga.
Barca sit second in the table, 12 points behind Real Madrid with a game in hand. They are only three points ahead of Real Betis in fifth, although Betis have played two games more.
“The level has dropped, that’s clear,” Xavi said.
Asked if his team can still challenge Madrid for the title, Xavi said: “If we don’t win the eight games we have left, no. The first objective is to qualify for the Champions League next season. If after that we can challenge for La Liga, perfect.”
Pedri will miss the game against Cadiz after injuring his hamstring against Frankfurt.
“He was in his best form of the season, it’s a setback for him and the team,” Xavi said.