MADRID (AP) — Spanish champion Barcelona sacrificed its unbeaten streak on Saturday to prepare to reach the Champions League final at Liverpool’s expense.
With most regular starters rested, Barcelona’s 23-match unbeaten run ended in a 2-0 loss at Celta Vigo on Saturday in the Spanish league.
It was Barcelona’s first setback since January and a loss at Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, and its first defeat in the league since November.
The result meant little to the Catalan club, though, as it’s fully focused on Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal next week, when it will travel to England defending a 3-0 win from the Camp Nou.
Of more immediate concern was a leg injury to Ousmane Dembele, who had to be replaced five minutes into the match.
“Apparently he has a muscle problem,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We will have to wait until the tests tomorrow to see how serious it is.”
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Sergio Busquets were among the players who didn’t travel to Vigo.
Celta loved the result, which moved it to 14th place and five points clear of the relegation zone.
Barcelona clinched its 26th league title last weekend.
Atletico Madrid earlier missed a chance to secure second place after losing at Espanyol 3-0.
A draw would have been enough for Atletico but it struggled from at mid-table Espanyol.