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Martino / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Gerardo Martino held an official Champions League press conference this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s showdown with Celtic Park. The Argentine manager, who made his debut in the competition with a win over Ajax, is aware of how difficult it will be to defeat Celtic and he warns that his players need to take a step forward in Messi’s absence.

“It’s not easy to replace Messi, but we have good players and we can’t use his absence as an excuse if we lose,” said Martino. The manager then went on to talk about how he’ll approach tomorrow’s match: “We all assume that tomorrow’s game will be like last year’s, but we can’t know that. We will have to be precise, faster and more mobile. We have to alternate between long spells of possession and vertical play. It’s to our advantage to have the ball for longer periods of time.”
We will have to be precise, faster and more mobile. We have to alternate between long spells of possession and vertical play
The false nine option

Martino also said that Cesc isn’t the only player at his disposal that can play in the false nine position. “Cesc in the 9 position combines well with Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio. He knows how to set up goals, because he gives assists and against Almería he proved that. But it doesn’t mean that he’s the only player that can play in that position, Alexis and Sergi Roberto can also play in that position,” said Martino.

When asked about how his players are approaching tomorrow’s match, in reference to last year’s defeat to Celtic, Martino was clear that there is no desire for vengeance on his players’ part: “The team isn’t thinking about revenge. Barça players always have to win, that’s our obligation and they shouldn’t think about what happened in the pas.”
Barça players always have to win, that’s our obligation
Keeping tabs on follow-up plays

Martino, who’s studied the Scottish team, said that Barça will have to adapt to tomorrow’s game. “I understand that it’s a match in which we will have to adapt to long balls and follow-up plays. If we have the ball our rivals will have fewer corners and fewer set pieces,” said the FC Barcelona manager.

 


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