Barca’s first defeat, a 2-1 defeat at Ajax in the Champions League last Tuesday, saw their 20-match unbeaten run under new coach Gerardo Martino come to an end – one short of matching the club’s best-ever start to a season.
However, if the manager was expecting a fierce response at the San Mames it never came as the La Liga champions slumped to 1-0 defeat, allowing Atletico Madrid to draw level at the top of table with arch-rivals Real Madrid now just three points back.
Busquets, though, is refusing to panic and urged his team-mates to see out the year on a high.
“There’s no need to be alarmed, we just have to carry on,” the Spanish star said. “We have to win the two [league] games that are left to play this year and learn both from our errors and the things we are doing well.”
Barca, whose star forward Lionel Messi is sidelined through injury and is unlikely to be available again until the new year, should get some respite on Friday when they take on third-tier side Cartagena in the Copa del Rey. They see out 2013 with league matches against Villarreal and Getafe and Javier Mascherano insisted they would go into those clashes full of confidence, despite their mini slump in form.
“Nobody likes to lose, the defeat hurts, but let’s not forget we are still leaders,” the defender said. “We’re going away sad. We were more intense than against Ajax, but that wasn’t enough to give us the win. We have to put right the things we have done badly and we must be self-critical, but we’ve done things well too.
“We have to win the games that are left this year, beginning with the matches against Cartagena and Villarreal.”
Bilbao took all three points against the Catalan club thanks to Iker Muniain’s goal 20 minutes from time. But despite dominating for large parts of the match, Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta admitted they had no answer to their rivals when it mattered most.
“We had the game under control, but the goal really hurt us. San Mames is always a tough place to come to,” he said. “We put in a good first half and we played well at times after the break, but the goal really shook us and although we really tried, we couldn’t come back.”