Jordi Alba joined Lionel Messi in calling out Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal for "throwing s***" within the club.

Abidal this week said in an interview with Catalan publication Sport that Barca took the decision to sack Ernesto Valverde after he and his colleagues identified "many players weren't satisfied nor working hard and there was also an internal communication problem".

Messi was disappointed the former left-back chose to tar all members of the squad with the same brush and did not specify names in his remarks.

Barca boss Quique Setien said on Wednesday the six-time Ballon d'Or winner remains happy at the club, with speculation mounting that he could opt to leave at the end of the season.

However, a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday was the latest blow for the club, who this week announced Ousmane Dembele will undergo surgery on a hamstring problem that is expected to rule him out of the rest of the campaign.

Speaking after the game at San Mames, Alba followed Messi's lead and claimed Abidal should have known better.

"This club gets enough s*** thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn't be throwing s*** at ourselves. That is the line to follow," said Alba.

"Abidal was a player, he is loved by the fans and that's why he should know what it's like inside the dressing room and how players feel."

Sergio Busquets headed the ball into his own net in the 93rd minute in Bilbao but Alba was pleased with the club's display.

"I think he had a very good game, one of the best of the season. It's a shame we lost at the last minute, but that's football," he said.

"I'm very proud of the team, especially for the level of the game. We have to continue like this.

"It's clearly the right path, we only missed the win. We played well, with possession and very clear openings. The result is a pity."

Real Madrid attacker Vinicius Junior dismissed speculation over a move to Paris Saint-Germain, insisting he wants to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Vinicius was linked with PSG in January – the Ligue 1 champions' sporting director Leonardo a reported admirer of his fellow Brazilian.

However, Vinicius has no plans to leave LaLiga giants Madrid, where the 19-year-old arrived in 2018.

Speaking after Thursday's shock 4-3 Copa del Rey quarter-final loss to Real Sociedad, Vinicius told reporters: "There's no choice, I want to stay at Madrid."

Trailing Sociedad 1-0 at half-time, Madrid found themselves 3-0 down before the hour-mark in the Spanish capital.

Marcelo reduced the deficit in the 59th minute but Mikel Merino restored Sociedad's three-goal advantage 10 minutes later.

Late goals from Rodrygo Goes and Nacho gave Madrid some hope, however, it was not enough for the LaLiga leaders at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I would like to ask to the fans to keep this way up, we are going to fight until the end of the season in order to win La Liga and Champions League too," Vinicius said.

Vinicius added: "We were not in good shape, and Sociedad plays football really well, they're well-placed in LaLiga. It was a difficult match. The only Copa one played at home, and we lost.

"It is hard to lose at home. We were unbeaten at home and we got beaten on the single match we can't afford to lose. But on the other hand, we keep fighting until the end, fighting to keep in good shape looking forward the end of this season."

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid – three points clear of Barcelona atop LaLiga, travel to Osasuna on Sunday.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien believes the club have taken a step forward, despite crashing out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Inaki Williams' 93rd-minute goal condemned last season's runners-up Barca to a 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals.

Barca have lost back-to-back away games under Setien, who replaced Ernesto Valverde last month, however the Spanish boss maintains the LaLiga champions are heading in the right direction.

"Taking into account what has happened to us in other games from home, we have taken a step forward in terms of what we have to improve," Setien told reporters.

"It is the same as ever; there are days when you have one chance and put it in, and there are days where you have ten and can't do it. There isn't a reasonable explanation.

"I have never known what to blame it on. Their goal came from a play that wasn't dangerous. There are things that can't be controlled and this is one of them.

"Everything went well, except for the result. I am happy with the team's work."

Setien added: "We controlled the second half. Marc-Andre [ter Stegen] didn't have any saves to make and it was a shame because we had the game under control.

"We created several clear chances and they got the goal when there was no time for us to react. We looked good and we were the better team.

"We didn't win but it will come. It is a pity the competition doesn't give us the chance for revenge but we must be positive despite not deserving to be eliminated."

Barca – three points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid – travel to Real Betis on Sunday.

Real Madrid and Barcelona exited the Copa del Rey on the same date for the first time since 1955 following shock defeats.

LaLiga giants Madrid and Barca both crashed out in the quarter-finals on Thursday, stunned by Basque pair Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao respectively.

Madrid were upstaged 4-3 by visiting Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Lionel Messi's Barca – runners-up for six successive seasons – conceded a 93rd-minute goal in a 1-0 loss away to Athletic.

It is the first time in 65 years Madrid and Barca have been eliminated on the same day – the pair ousted by Sevilla and Athletic in the 1955 semi-finals.

LaLiga leaders Madrid and Barca will now turn their attention to league and Champions League honours.

Madrid – three points clear atop LaLiga – face Manchester City in the Champions League last 16, while Barca meet Napoli.

Gerard Pique said Barcelona's dressing room was united despite the LaLiga champions suffering a crushing blow in an already troubling week, eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey.

A 1-0 defeat to Athletic saw Barcelona knocked out of the Copa in the quarter-finals on Thursday, with that familiar route to silverware now cut off to the 30-time winners.

The setback followed criticism from director of football Eric Abidal, who questioned the team's effort under former head coach Ernesto Valverde, which led to a rebuke from star man and captain Lionel Messi.

"It's not time to air the dirty washing. The dressing room is fully united," Barca defender Pique told reporters. "Elimination is a big blow but we said in the dressing room that we've taken a step forward and played well, despite all the noise that's been generated."

He added, according to several Spanish newspapers: "We have to focus on playing and winning. We have to return to winning ways. The players have the ability to keep winning and we are working on that every day, finding a better feel for the game."

With LaLiga and the Champions League still in their sights, Pique said of Barcelona, who are three points behind Real Madrid: "There is enough confidence and talent to be able to win the two remaining titles."

Pique hobbled off in the second half in Bilbao with what initially appeared to be a groin injury, but he said the blow was to his adductor and "not serious".

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Barcelona looked to be on the right track, after a match they could easily have won.

Messi and Antoine Griezmann missed clear chances before Inaki Williams headed the winner deep in second-half stoppage time.

"The first thing is to congratulate Athletic, who will be in the semi-finals, but I also thank the Barca fans who have come and I also congratulate the Barca players because they fought, dominated and played well. [Athletic] have only had one chance and they scored," Bartomeu told Barca TV.

He said that he appreciated Barcelona's "performance and ambition".

"The ambition and the attitude that I saw on the pitch encourages me with a view to LaLiga and the Champions League, so successes can come," Bartomeu added.

"I repeat that we had clear occasions, such as those of Griezmann and Messi, and we dominated. Now we focus on LaLiga and the Champions League, but I want to emphasise the ambition, the attitude and the work done. We deserved to go through."

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said, according to AS: "It is a sad day for everyone. We have two competitions that we have to keep fighting in. This does not stop, we have to continue, we have done things well and we have had the game quite under control. In an isolated play at the end we are out of the Copa."

Zinedine Zidane felt the Real Madrid XI he sent out for Thursday's 4-3 Copa del Rey quarter-final loss to Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu should have been good enough to progress.

Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard opened the scoring and an Alexander Isak brace saw Sociedad surge into a 3-0 lead before the hour.

Marcelo pulled a goal back and, after Mikel Merino made it 4-1, late goals from substitute Rodrygo Goes and Nacho left the visitors hanging on, with Andoni Gorosabel dismissed for a second booking in stoppage time.

Alphonse Areola was culpable for Odegaard's goal, while James Rodriguez was withdrawn at the break and Brahim Diaz had a minimal impact upon the contest.

Nevertheless, Zidane maintained a team that featured captain Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema had more than enough to get the job done.

"I put out a team that thought I could do well," Zidane told reporters afterwards.

"I don't think we were wrong with the team, but there is a rival who played very well and that has cost us.

"Here we are all together, when you win and when you lose."

Zidane felt Madrid grew into the game after the interval, only to be punished by frequent and uncharacteristic defensive lapses.

"The second half was better than the first and we tried until the end," he said.

"Even when it was 1-4 we tried. The opponent played very well and in the first half we had a lot of difficulty with their pressure. We also had defensive mistakes."

LaLiga leaders Madrid are back in action at Osasuna on Sunday, chasing a fifth consecutive top-flight win.

"This hurts, yes, you have to tell the truth," Zidane added.

"But you have to think about Sunday. You have to recover because the effort has been great."

Barcelona stumbled to a new setback in their troubled week as Inaki Williams' header in added time dumped last season's beaten finalists out of the Copa del Rey.

A hard-fought quarter-final appeared destined for extra time until Williams applied enough of a touch to Ibai Gomez's inswinging cross from the right flank to send the ball beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the net.

The winner in the third minute of stoppage time saw Athletic through to the last four and, with Real Madrid surprisingly beaten at home by Real Sociedad just hours earlier, it means neither of Spain's two heavyweight clubs are left standing.

Lionel Messi, who had made the headlines in the lead-up to the game for criticising director of football Eric Abidal, had Barca's best chance, only to be denied by Unai Simon's outstretched left leg late in the second half.

The Athletic goalkeeper had also denied substitute Antoine Griezmann but, for the first time in seven seasons, the Catalan club will not be involved in the final of the competition.

Martin Odegaard gave his parent club a telling reminder of his talents as Real Sociedad stunned Real Madrid with a 4-3 victory in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

The 21-year-old playmaker opened the scoring midway through the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu, assisted by a dreadful goalkeeping error from Alphonse Areola.

That was Odegaard's sixth goal in the first season of a planned two-campaign loan stint in San Sebastian and Sociedad striker Alexander Isak then took centre stage with two goals in as many second-half minutes.

 

Mikel Merino made it 4-1 after Marcelo pulled one back for Madrid, and Sociedad held out to hand Zinedine Zidane's shuffled line-up a first defeat in 22 matches, despite goals from Rodrygo Goes and Nacho and a red card for Andoni Gorosabel in a riotous finale.

Areola erred terribly to reward an enterprising start from Sociedad, pushing Isak's strike into Odegaard's path before allowing the midfielder's first-time follow-up to slide embarrassingly through his legs.

James Rodriguez's snapshot from the edge of the box drew a fine stop from Alex Remiro low to his right, with the Real Sociedad goalkeeper denying Vinicius Jr and Federico Valverde in quick succession before Sergio Ramos planted a 39th-minute header against the crossbar from an offside position.

Isak's wayward finishing had threatened to undermine Sociedad's fine work during the first half and he had a 49th-minute effort chalked off when a VAR review showed him to be offside on the end of Odegaard's throughball.

But the Sweden forward swivelled to superbly volley a chipped cross from Ander Barrenetxea – on as a half-time replacement for Adnan Januzaj – into the top left corner.

Isak then made further mockery of his earlier wastefulness by thundering an unstoppable shot high beyond Areola from Nacho's mishit clearance.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Remiro's earlier sureness deserted him as Marcelo fired through his grasp at the near post, handing Madrid a 59th-minute lifeline.

More slapdash defending sealed their fate, however, with Merino the unlikely and unmarked beneficiary when Isak turned provider.

Madrid almost dug themselves out of a hole of their own making, with Vinicius cutting back for Rodrygo to slam in after having a header of his own disallowed for offside.

Nacho's stoppage-time header and Gorosabel's second yellow card, for a foul on Vinicius, meant Sociedad stumbled over the line in a manner at odds with their earlier brilliance.

Lionel Messi was given the chance to do his talking on the pitch on Thursday after he was named in the Barcelona starting line-up for their Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao.

Messi made headlines this week when criticising Eric Abidal, the Spanish club's director of football, for suggesting some Barca players were not working hard enough under previous boss Ernesto Valverde.

The Argentina international called out Abidal for his comments in the media, telling the Frenchman he should name the individuals who were not pulling their weight.

Such a reaction has raised questions over Messi's future at Camp Nou, though the 32-year-old was selected in the XI for the quarter-final tie against Athletic.

Ansu Fati was also chosen in the team, the teenager keeping his place after scoring both goals in Barcelona's 2-1 LaLiga win over Levante at the weekend.

Head coach Quique Setien made just one change from that side, bringing in Sergi Roberto to replace Antoine Griezmann.

Quique Setien is concerned for Ousmane Dembele though is unsure if Barcelona will have to make signings to replace the injured winger.

Dembele seems set to miss the rest of the season after sustaining a tear in his right hamstring in training on Monday.

The France international had been working his way back from a hamstring issue in the same leg which had kept him out since November.

News of Dembele's injury was somewhat overshadowed by Lionel Messi's public criticism of Barca director Eric Abidal on Tuesday, though the 22-year-old's continued absence leaves Setien short of numbers up top, with Luis Suarez also out.

However, Setien is not convinced Barca, who have Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao joining from July 1, will do further business to replace Dembele.

"These are things that are pending that will be talked about first of all. We are going to see what the diagnosis is for the problem Dembele has, how long he's going to be out," Setien told a news conference ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao.

"Once we know that and have all the info we'll take decisions. It's true I was very excited to get Ousmane back to help us, this is obviously an unfortunate situation but I've always had problems in my career and what I always try to do is find solutions.

"We'll see if it's going to be a long time out and if we can sign someone, we'll have to wait and see, and if not we'll try to find the path to give the team solidity, consistency and identity that is required to win games.

"We'll always look at things positively and with excitement. I always said I'm going to be happy here and this doesn’t stop me from being happy.

"I'm worried most not about Dembele as a footballer. He's an extraordinary kid who works with intensity and desire to come back. It could be three, four or five months without playing football which is the thing he likes to do the most."

When pressed on Barca's failure to bring in reinforcements up front, Setien said: "Well I'm sure we'll always have 11 players! I'm sure we'll always be competitive as well. In football these things happen.

"But we are going to be competitive with what we have. If we can't sign anyone for any reason, it doesn’t matter, we are going to work with the same excitement and desire, ensuring players that are here are completely committed.

"You can see that today we had another extraordinary training session and are completely focused on the game tomorrow which is what completely bothers us.

"I would like to have more players. If we had known about the injury to Ousmane, I don't think Carles Perez would have left the club. But I'm not going to be crying permanently about things, I need to transmit positivity to my squad."

Barcelona and Real Madrid avoided each other in the draw for the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Friday.

Quique Setien's men were pitted against Athletic in the last eight, with the game taking place at San Mames next week.

Former Athletic defender Andoni Goikoetxea, the club's representative at the draw, feels home advantage could be key.

He said: "I like the draw. I wanted it to be at San Mames. It's a very difficult draw, we'll see what happens but it'll be a party.

"Athletic always has aspirations to reach the Copa final but you have to beat all the great teams to get there. Athletic can beat anyone and San Mames is a magical place."

Madrid will also fancy their chances at home to Real Sociedad, while defending champions Valencia go to Granada.

Giantkillers Mirandes, the only team from outside LaLiga remaining, were rewarded for their defeat of Sevilla with a home tie against Villarreal.

The matches will be played across February 4, 5 and 6.

Julen Lopetegui apologised to supporters after Sevilla suffered a shock elimination from the Copa del Rey at the hands of second-tier Mirandes on Thursday.

Sevilla succumbed to a 3-1 loss in the last-16 match at the Municipal de Anduva, with Matheus Aias sending Mirandes into half-time with a 2-0 lead.

Lopetegui made three substitutions at the break and were lucky the Segunda Division side did not extend their lead when Diego Carlos conceded a penalty by fouling Alvaro Pena, who saw his effort from 12 yards kept out by Tomas Vaclik.

Alvaro Rey put the result beyond doubt five minutes from time, with Nolito's 90th-minute goal providing scant consolation.

"We apologise. We are all tremendously sad, but we have to back up quickly," said Lopetegui.

"We were prisoners of our bad start and they took advantage to get ahead. In this format, one bad game means you are eliminated.

"The first goal was key. It gave them a lot of energy and generated doubts [for us].

"When three substitutions are made, it's because the first one to make a mistake was the coach.

"We tried to score early in the second half but everything was against us. The goal we expected did not come and we have been eliminated by a good team that was superior.

"It's a big blow, without a doubt. We were very excited, but we have to pick ourselves up."

Mirandes will be the only team from outside LaLiga in the quarter-final draw on Friday.

Quique Setien has no concerns about Barcelona failing to sign a striker in the January transfer window because Ousmane Dembele will be "amazing" when he returns from injury.

Barca director Guillermo Amor confirmed before Thursday's 5-0 Copa del Rey last-16 victory over Leganes that no back-up to Luis Suarez – ruled out until May with a knee injury – will be signed, negotiations for Valencia attacker Rodrigo Moreno having broken down.

Lionel Messi scored twice and was involved in the other three goals as Setien's side enjoyed serene progress to the quarter-finals, with Antoine Griezmann, Clement Lenglet and Arthur hitting the target.

Setien acknowledged the lack of a new signing leaves Barca's attack in a precarious position, though Dembele has been eased back into full training since the weekend having been sidelined since November with a thigh injury.

Asked about the lack of a signing, Setien said: "I will be calm. There is a risk of injury and it cannot be controlled. I am used to working with what I have.

"It was not to be. The market did not give us anything, but we will also recover Dembele.

"He is a player who has specific attributes and I think he can give us a lot. He feels comfortable out wide and we will try to take advantage of that.

"I'm sure he will give us a lot with the potential he has and will demonstrate the great player he is. Dembele is going to be amazing."

Dembele signed from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in August 2017 but has frequently struggled with injuries.

Barca's victory over Leganes saw them emphatically bounce back from the first defeat of Setien's tenure, a 2-0 loss to Valencia on Saturday that saw them fall three points behind Real Madrid in LaLiga's title race.

"We did very well in the first 20 to 25 minutes. It's true they could have hurt us, but we did many things well. However, I am not entirely satisfied," Setien said of Thursday's display.

"We scored but we lost control of the game and gave them a lot of life when we had to control the game."

Lionel Messi has hit yet another milestone at Barcelona, having now featured in 500 wins for the club.

Messi scored twice and played a part in Barca's other three goals in a 5-0 rout of Leganes in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

It makes Messi the first player to reach the landmark, with Xavi having won 476 matches and Andres Iniesta reaching 459 victories before departing Camp Nou.

Espanyol were the first side to lose to a Barca team that included Messi, back in October 2004.

Meanwhile, UDA Gramenet are the only team to have faced Messi and managed to avoid defeat, having beaten Barca in the Copa del Rey last 64 in 2004-05.

In total, Messi has been on the winning side against 86 different teams, with Sevilla his favourite opponent.

Messi has won 29 times against the Andalusian club, while he has 24 victories over Atletico Madrid and 19 versus Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona bounced back from their first defeat under Quique Setien with a resounding 5-0 victory over Leganes in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.

A 2-0 loss at Valencia on Saturday resulted in reigning LaLiga champions Barca falling three points adrift of rivals Real Madrid in the title race, but they appeared to get right back on track at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Setien named a strong starting line-up and Antoine Griezmann took less than four minutes to open the scoring, with Clement Lenglet nodding in the second before the half-hour mark.

Messi extended their advantage with a fortuitous finish in the 59th minute, and he doubled his tally after substitute Arthur found the back of the net to send Barca breezing into the quarter-finals.

After Nelson Semedo played a give-and-go with Messi, he cut the ball back to Griezmann, who fired between Chidozie Awaziem's legs and into the bottom-left corner to give Barca an early lead.

Setien's team dominated possession and had a second goal for Griezmann ruled out in the ninth minute, with Jordi Alba deemed to have been marginally offside in the build-up.

Griezmann saw a deflected shot tipped around the post by Ivan Cuellar, but Lenglet nodded the resulting corner from Messi over the Leganes goalkeeper and into the far corner to increase Barca's advantage in the 27th minute.

The visitors sporadically threatened on the counter-attack, yet their hopes of getting back into the game were extinguished when Messi raced away on the right and beat Cuellar with the help of a deflection off Rodrigo Tarin.

Leganes coach Javier Aguirre was shown a yellow card for dissent, and his mood would not have improved in the 77th minute, Arthur firing home after Cuellar denied Ansu Fati and Awaziem blocked Messi on the initial follow-up.

Messi rounded off a magnificent display with one minute remaining by latching onto Ivan Rakitic's throughball, rounding Cuellar and sending the ball into the roof of the net.

 

What does it mean? Barca could rue not getting another striker

With a move for Valencia attacker Rodrigo Moreno having broken down, Barca director Guillermo Amor said they were happy to finish the transfer window without signing attacking cover for Luis Suarez, who has been ruled until close to the end of the season with a knee injury.

This match would have been a good opportunity for Barca to grant Griezmann and Messi a rest, even though they proved pivotal to the result. They are now even more crucial in the run-in and no risks can be taken with the star pairing.

Magical Messi

It was not a spectacular display from Barcelona, but Messi was involved in all five goals. He released Semedo for the opener, assisted Lenglet for the second and got the third and fifth himself. Arthur would not have got on the scoreboard were it not for the Argentina star's initial rebound either.

Not so sterling Silva

It was never going to be an easy task for Jonathan Silva, but he struggled to provide any resistance on the left and lost possession 12 times before being replaced by Kevin Rodrigues in the 57th minute.

What's next?

Barcelona host Levante in LaLiga on Sunday, when Leganes entertain Real Sociedad.

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