The win helped Barca move on from Thursday’s Copa del Rey defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao, when Alba drew the brunt of the abuse following the elimination from supporters and the media.
“I’ve felt singled out for many years now,” Alba told Movistar when asked about the reaction to his performance at San Mames in midweek. “It’s not the first time it’s happened. But I accept the criticism, it’s always going to be there.
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“If I play well, no one talks about me. If I have a normal game, I’m criticised for not setting up two goals. If I play badly, I am killed, although I recognise I did not play well the other day.
“No one gifted me 10 years at Barcelona but it’s always the veterans who are singled out. It’s as if there are only veterans at Barca, not anywhere else.
“For four years they’ve been speaking about veterans. I was 28 then. It’s how it is. I am 32 now, but I still feel strong. I can have better or worse games, but I repeat that the other day I wasn’t good.”
Coach Xavi Hernandez says the atmosphere surrounding the club is not helpful at times, suggesting some of his players are struggling for confidence after what has been a difficult season.
Barca have already been knocked out of the Champions League, the Spanish Supercopa and the Copa del Rey, while they’re only fifth in the league after beating Alaves on Sunday.
“They’re three golden points,” Xavi said in a news conference after an 87th-minute winner at Mendizorrotza Stadium. “Only Real Madrid have won here, but we have to play better as well.
“The players are low on confidence; we have to pick them up. They’ve really celebrated this in the dressing room because they have been criticised. The environment does not help.
“Alba, [Sergio] Busquets, [Gerard] Pique and De Jong have all been criticised, but they stepped up. It’s not easy to play for Barca. The shirt here weighs 20kg more. We’re suffering at the moment, it’s going to be hard, but the sun will come out.”
De Jong, who scored the winner after Ferran Torres pulled back Alba’s ball, says he can get better but feels the analysis of his form has been over the top.
“I feel good,” he told Movistar. “Now I score a goal people will say I played well, but it’s as if a lot of people aren’t watching the games. That’s not how it is. I can improve a lot, but [my form is] not a disaster, either.”
The Dutch midfielder also said he didn’t like the reaction to the Supercopa defeat to Madrid earlier this month, when Barca twice came from behind against the LaLiga leaders before losing 3-2 after extra time.
“I was embarrassed we were saying we were really proud after the game against Real Madrid,” he added. “It can’t be like that at Barca when you’re beaten by Madrid. When you lose, you always must be disappointed.”
Barca’s win at Alaves was their seventh consecutive game played away from home. They return to Camp Nou for the first time in 2022 when they host fourth-placed Atletico Madrid in a key game in the race for the top four on Feb. 6 following a two-week break.