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Martino: What happened today doesn’t raise questions about my starting XI at the Bernabeu

by Tom Conn | Posted on Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Barcelona manager, Tata Martino was satisfied with his side’s 7-0 rout of Osasuna on Sunday evening at the Camp Nou and with Neymar and Cesc Fabregas on the bench and Pedro putting on a display, the Argentine boss states that he has his starting for next weekend’s El Clasico against Real Madrid almost decided.


In his post-match press conference, Martino spoke about the win, but most of the questions were already about next weekend’s ‘El Clasico’, which could shake things up at the top of the table.

“What happened today doesn’t raise questions about who I will pick for the Bernabeu, today’s performance doesn’t change who I think should play there.  I’m always thinking about who I will have in the line-up, independent of today’s results.  I’ve almost decided the line-up already.

“We’ve given a lot of material for people to talk about this week…Having a good performance ahead of the match at the Bernabeu helps, but we can’t forget to prepare well.  It’s not easy to score seven goals but it won’t change people from saying that we’re a disaster and blowing everything out of proportion.  This is a squad full of stars and we often times have to leave someone out.  I can’t leave them out just because of the last match.  It’s not easy to manage because they are very good player, not through any fault of their own.  The last game doesn’t change much.

“Whenever the team is feeling good and has a game like this, it’s welcomed.  Especially at a crucial time like this.  There is clarity and yet, against a scheme like Real Sociedad, which is the same as Osasuna’s, we couldn’t find any answers.

“We’ve played many complete 90 minute games, but we are erratic from game to game.  The game against City was complete but that usually doesn’t carry over to other games.  So the league gap is four points.  We are in good position in the league table.  We should be in a better place.  As long as there’s three or four points difference, we can’t give up on the league.  We will fight for as long as we can.

“Changing the mindset? I don’t see how you can do that in six days.  What we need to do is get in a good rhythm to have more options on all fronts.

“The last two games have been good.  Before the match against City, we were a little worse for the wear because the opponent was in top form and it ended 4-1.  It was the most complicated match of the knockout rounds.  Against Osasuna we did well too.  Now we have a chance to close the gap.”

Martino went on to praise Leo Messi, Pedro and Andres Iniesta before explaining why he left Neymar on the bench.

“Pedro and Alexis sum up everything a manager wants in a complete footballer.  I put the two side by side.  They have many attributes, a lot of pride, and always strive to be a good soldier.  It’s very difficult for me to decide between the two.

“Iniesta’s performance was at a very high level.

“I have no more words left for Messi.  If he keeps playing matches like this, he’ll continue to break records.

“Neymar had significant wear from the match against City. We planned on if it was not necessary for him to play today, he wouldn’t.  I’ll take the criticism for lack of consistency.  It just seemed wiser to give consistency to Alexis and Pedro.”

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