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Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal is paying the price for Barcelona’s humiliating Kings cup defeat to third division side Novelda, with the local Catalan media fiercely critical of his side’s performance.

The media criticism has been fierce after Barca exited the tournament at the first hurdle for the second successive year. It marks the end of the honeymoon period for Van Gaal, who returned for a second coaching spell at the club earlier this year.

“Intolerable” read the headline in Mundo Deportivo, which described the defeat as “shameful” and “a disaster”.

The hero of the hour for Novelda was centre-forward Madrigal who hit a hat-trick. Madrigal struck in the 58th and 65th minutes after Barcelona had led from the seventh minute. Barcelona pulled back on terms courtesy of a penalty converted by Juan Roman Riquelme after a foul on Fabio Rochemback after 68 minutes. However, 10 minutes later Madrigal broke away to shoot what proved to be winner beyond Barcelona’s new German keeper, Robert Enke.

Van Gaal attempted to downplay the significance of the defeat.

“I can forgive them because of individual circumstances,” he said.

“We all know that the pitch was small and that Novelda set out to defend.

“We only lost because of individual errors and I can excuse that because we all make mistakes.”

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