Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has admitted that his side sorely missed striker Lionel Messi and midfielder Andres Iniesta during their 2-1 loss to Sevilla on Saturday.
Messi is expected to be out of action for seven to eight weeks after suffering a knee injury during Barcelona's match against Las Palmas last Saturday, while Iniesta injured his hamstring during his side's 2-1 win over Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday.
However, Pique pointed out that Barcelona cannot use Messi and Iniesta's absence as an excuse for their loss and added that the Catalans have to get back to their winning ways after the international break.
"After the international break, we must start winning and cannot afford more setbacks. Barcelona have to be at the top," Pique told reporters. "Of course we miss Messi and Iniesta, but Sevilla also have injuries so that cannot be an excuse."
Michael Krohn-Delhi and Vicente Iborra both scored to give Sevilla a 2-0 lead in the 58th minute, but Barcelona were able to reduce the deficit when Neymar converted a penalty in the 74th minute.
However, the reigning La Liga champions had numerous opportunities to bring themselves level and even win the game, but the crossbar denied Neymar, Luis Suarez and Sandro Ramirez from scoring.
"The ball didn't want to go in today. They got through twice and scored, we paid for that," Pique said.