FC Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was in philosophical mood after his side prepared for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final against Manchester United FC with a 2-0 loss at RC Deportivo La Coruña.
"Deportivo deserved their victory, we lost our rhythm and they took advantage of that," he said after a result that stretched his side's run without a goal to three games. "Things weren't working well for us. To win games you need to score goals and that's exactly what we're working on now."
MADRID (AFP) - Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard took no risks ahead of Tuesday's massive Champions League semi-final with Manchester United, resting most of his stars in a 2-0 defeat at Deportivo La Coruna that all but gifts the title to Real Madrid.
Real can win the title on Sunday with victory over Athletic Bilbao - providing Villarreal fail to win - and Barca's approach against Depor emphasised that they had waved the white flag and Europe is now the top priority.
Barca are 11 points behind Real, who also have a game in hand, and face a fight to seal second place with Villarreal a point ahead having played one game less.
But that pales in signifance to the trip to Old Trafford with Barca, who drew 0-0 in the first leg at Camp Nou, looking for a vital away goal to help them reach the Moscow final.
Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gaby Milito, Deco and Victor Valdes were all notable absentees in the Barca line-up against Depor although Rijkaard claimed he was not resting them for Manchester United.
"We put a team out there to do a job but before thinking about the result, I think about the health of my players," Rijkaard explained.
"My decision is not influenced by being first or second or still in the Champions League.
"Eto'o and Xavi are both in need of a rest to gain strength. As for Messi his case is different."
Argentine winger Messi, 20, played in the first leg against Manchester United but has only just returned to first team action after a torn muscle in his left leg back in March interrupted his season.
"Some people are saying Messi is ready to play ninety minutes, but unfortunately that is not the case," Rijkaard added.
"He has already suffered two very serious injuries and we must protect him - I no longer speak as the coach of Barça, but as a fan of football, because I would like to see Messi playing for many years.
"I do not rest anyone thinking about another game, but only because the player needs it."
A concern for Barca is that despite having the likes of Henry, Messi and Eto'o the goals have dried up with three out of their last four league matches ending in scoreless draws.
"If we create chances the goals will come," Rijkaard. "A lot of things have happened this season, like injuries for example, and these things affect you."
Against Manchester United they are desperate to get an away goal knowing Sir Alex Ferguson's team will then have to score twice.
Rijkaard won the Champions League with Barca two years ago - defeating Arsenal in the final - and may have to repeat that feat to save his job.
MADRID (AFP) - A makeshift Barcelona team fell to a 2-0 loss at Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday meaning Real Madrid now have the chance to win the title on Sunday if results go their way.
With one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final against Manchester United coach Frank Rijkaard rested several key players - such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi - and the second string were second best against a motivated Depor team.
Barca stay 11 points behind Real in third and the reigning champions can wrap up a 31st championship on Sunday if they beat Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal fail to win at Real Betis on the same day.
Wrestling second spot from Villarreal, a point ahead with a game in hand, is one challenge for Barca but top priority is now the Champions League.
Barca drew 0-0 in the first leg at Camp Nou and go to Old Trafford looking for a vital away goal to help them reach the Moscow final.
"If we create chances the goals will come," said Rijkaard. "We had a team out there to do a job but after the tough game a few days ago (against Manchester United) it was difficult.
"We had players who had not played much and some missing for obvious reasons."
Messi, Samuel Eto'o, Xavi, Iniesta, Gaby Milito, Deco and Victor Valdes were all notable absentees in the Barca line-up with Rijkaard clearly keeping them fresh for Manchester United.
The second string team saw Spaniard Jose Pinto, virtually unknown to Barca supporters, start in goal but there was still some quality on show with three World Cup winners in Thierry Henry, Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram.
Eidur Gudjohnsen, a fringe player hoping to impress, should have scored on 12 minutes but lifted an effort over the crossbar.
Barca dominated possession but Depor went close to breaking the deadlock on the half hour mark when Xisco hit the crossbar.
Bojan Krkic then spurned a great chance delaying his shot too long.
The misses proved costly as Juan Rodriguez side-footed home at the beginning of the second half with some woeful Barca marking.
Pablo Amo added a second as Depor, who have been fighting relegation for most of the season, moved two points from the final UEFA Cup spot.
Sevilla now have Depor breathing down their necks but they are more concerned about missing out on the Champions League following a 0-0 draw against Real Murcia on Saturday.
"We have to believe we can make the Champions League but now it is going to be difficult," said Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano.
Sevilla are two points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid but the capital side can pull away with victory at derby rivals Getafe on Sunday.
Racing Santander are just a point behind Atletico but also have a difficult trip to Real Mallorca on the same day.
Valencia were in the Champions League quarter-finals last season but the Kings Cup winners are trying to stay in the league when they face Osasuna on Sunday.
Valencia are just two points above the drop zone and hope the dismissal of under-performing manager Ronald Koeman can keep them in the top-flight.