Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday. The Welshman ran half the length of the field to score the winner five minutes from time and subject Barca a third consecutive defeat in all competitions which leaves them on the verge of failing to win a major trophy for the first time in six years.
"When you look at the age of the players in this team it is evident that Barcelona has a long road still to run and with a lot better results than this year," said Martino. Barca were dumped out of the Champions League before the semi-final stage for the first time in seven years last week by Atletico Madrid and also lie in third-place, four points adrift of Atletico, with just five games remaining in La Liga.
"Obviously it is not a happy moment," Martino admitted. "It has been a very hard week for us, but there is nothing else we can do but look ahead to what remains in the league. It is a very hard blow to take because the expectations for today were huge and it is a final so everyone was desperate to win.
"I am hurting due to the defeat and for the people that came here with great expectations to support us, but Barca still has a lot left to give. There is no perfect recipe to recover. The league doesn't have a favorable look for us at the moment, but we have the obligation to fight until the last day."
Defeat is also certain to heighten speculation that Martino will be replaced at the end of the campaign after just one season in charge of the Catalan giants. However, the Argentine claimed the past week did not change his plans for the future. "I don't feel like my future changes because of what we have lost, nor would it have changed if we had won everything."
Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti backed his opposite number on the Barca bench, citing personal experience that they remain one of the best sides in the world having lost both league meetings against Martino's men this season.
"We can say from experience this season that playing against Barcelona is very, very difficult. At times you need the luck to win. In my opinion Barca are not a team at the end of an era. They are still very dangerous."
A first trophy since taking charge of Madrid last summer is the perfect preparation for Ancelotti ahead of another big week as they face Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final next Wednesday. And the Italian believes playing against Barca's possession-based style will help when it comes to facing former Barca boss Pep Guardiola's side.
"It is very important for us to keep going, to work and to prepare well for the upcoming games. It will be just as difficult as the game we played tonight. Bayern Munich have the same qualities and style as Barcelona. I think that a week will be enough time to recover all the energy we need to face Bayern. In my opinion we have played well all season, but I understand that Real Madrid have to win things. Now we have the first title we can go for the other two."