Ivan Rakitic underscores the game's intensity

Rakitic and Arda celebrate the Croatian's 20th minute goal on Sunday. / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
FC Barcelona’s Croatian midfielder, who score the game’s opening goal, speaks to the media after the game along with teammates Javier Mascherano, Gerard Piqué and Sergio Busquets

Ivan Rakitic, whose goal 20th minute gave Barça a 1–0 lead over Villarreal on Sunday, highlighted the intensity of the match, which came “after a difficult mid-week game [against Arsenal].”

He wasn’t making excues, however, and emphasised the disappointing result. “It hurts to come away with a draw after being up 2–0,” he said.

The Barca midfielder further pointed out the team’s solid effort. “We played well and we controlled the game,” he said. “We do have to fix some things, but now we have time to recover and work on it after the break.”

Javier Mascherano

“Villarreal are one of the best sides in the league, and this field is never easy. It was intense and it was tough for us. At the end of the season you end up appreciating draws like this.”

“The game can be looked at two ways: we were winning 2–0 and they tied us, or we could have lost and we drew.”

“There were 15 or 20 minutes that were really tough. They made their chances count, which allowed them to draw even. These things happen.”

“They played well too, they also did things right. That means, at times, you have to suffer.”

“Our attitude, which is not negotiable, is still very good. The team, despite some setbacks, always wants to keep going.”

On El Clásico: “It’s the same as always. We have the desire to win and do well. We know how to play in a certain way and, beyond the standings, we won’t change our style of play.”

On the unbeaten streak: “Hopefully it’ll be a lot more than 39 games without losing.”

Gerard Piqué

“We are happy to be in the position we’re in.”

“Villarreal were good. And that comes despite playing on Thursday against Bayer Leverkusen. They were intense, they brought pressure and they played a great game.”

“We had the game in our hands. Now there’s one less game and that was the most difficult away game we had left. And now we are one more point ahead of the second place team.”

“The league title is getting closer.”

Sergio Busquets

“Adding points is always very good, especially if the team behind you loses. The draw was fair.”

“The first yellow card on Piqué was a mistake. And the committed a foul on Messi in the penalty area. The referee made mistakes for both teams.”