Jose Mourinho said no team in the world would be able to cope with the amount of injuries to key players Tottenham have suffered after their Champions League dream ended.
Spurs were beaten 3-0 in the second leg of their last-16 tie with an impressive RB Leipzig side to go down 4-0 on aggregate but they did not have Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Steven Bergwijn or Moussa Sissoko, with Davinson Sanchez also picking up an injury before the match.
It left them up against it in Germany and they were comfortably beaten by Marcel Sabitzer’s brace and Emil Forsberg’s late strike.
“It looks like the obvious is that the problems accumulate with the accumulation of injuries,” Mourinho said.
“If you want to make an exercise and imagine Leipzig tonight without Sabitzer, (Patrik) Schick, (Timo) Werner, do you think they would win the way they did?
“You go to the European champions and make an exercise? Liverpool without (Mohamed) Salah, (Sadio) Mane, (Jordan) Henderson, (Roberto) Firmino.
“You want to go to Spain and do Barcelona without (Antoine) Griezmann, (Lionel) Messi, (Luis) Suarez.
“Do you want to make this exercise with every team in the world?
“I think every team in the world would struggle with five or six of their most important players missing, it is as simple as that.
“All the players that were on the Leipzig bench, in my team they would play. Forsberg would play, (Yussuf) Poulsen would play.
“In this moment they would all play in my team because we don’t have, so that is a big problem.
“We have our problems and they don’t end in injuries, but no team in the world can cope with injuries for such a long time.
“You can cope for one or two matches. You cannot cope for four months. It’s too much.”
Spurs now have nine Premier League games remaining to try and get back into the Champions League next season.
That will be a tough task given they are seven points off fourth place and none of their long-term absentees are due back any time soon.
The match with Manchester United on Sunday will be pivotal and Mourinho accepts a top-four finish will be a big ask.
“With the squad we have at the moment it’s going to be very, very difficult,” he said. “These problems are not going to disappear from today to tomorrow.
“But we have matches to play, matches to fight in. You can see in our matches in the Premier League that we fight until the end.
“In the Premier League we don’t have results where we had no chances to fight for the points.
“When we lost matches, we lost matches 2-1, 3-2, 1-0. We had draws so it’s not like we don’t fight.
“So we will fight and the players have to be very strong to fight with the limitations we have.
“This time we are not going to recover any players for next Sunday. At least we have a little period, not just two days like we have all the time, we have four days in between.”
Leipzig were worthy of their win, as they outplayed Spurs over the two legs, and got the job done thanks to Sabitzer’s brace in the first half.
Boss Julian Nagelsmann, at 32 the youngest manager to take a team to the Champions League quarter-finals, said: “We gave everything and totally deserved to win – in total 4-0 after two games.
“Today was again the bravery that is so important for our game. The building block for our game is zero on the defence.”