Tata Martino at a press conference in the Ciutat Esportiva

Martino in the press room of the Ciutat Esportiva / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ – FCB

[[DES_1]]Sunday’s match in the Santiago Bernabéu isn’t a Cup final, but it might just as well be one.  Speaking at Saturday’s press conference, Martino revealed. “It’s probably our last chance to win the league.  There are nine games left after this Sunday’s game and it’s not the same to catch up one point than four or seven.  It’d be really tough to make up seven points.  Or even four!  Not because we’re not capable of doing it but because there are very few points left to play for and teams don’t tend to slip up so much at this stage of the season”.

He also dismissed the idea that a draw could be a good result.  “That depends on how the game goes.  But it’s clear that we need to win this Sunday’s game”.  We’re convinced we can win the ‘clásico’.  We’ll do everything we can to cut the gap with Real Madrid”.The key is to play well, keep possession, play our own game try not to lose the ball to prevent counterattacks and minimise the one-to-ones with Bale and Cristiano
Martino also confirmed that the team would approach the match as always: “We don’t have to do anything differently from usual.  We try and win every match.  The key is to play well, keep possession, play our own game try not to lose the ball to prevent counterattacks and minimise the one-to-ones with Bale and Cristiano”.  The manager also stressed the importance for Barça of getting the first goal.
Messi is our star player and makes his mark in decisive matches. If he has a great game we know that will be good for the team
The manager of FC Barcelona has already got his starting eleven clear in his mind and took the opportunity today to heap praise on Messi and Neymar: “Messi is our star player and makes his mark in decisive matches.  If he has a great game we know that will be good for the team.  Neymar is one of the best five players in the world.  I’ll try and make him feel special, because he is”.

Finally, Martino blamed the fact that Barça are having play catch-up is down to a lack of consistency, not a problem of style: “Both teams have a very clear idea of how they play.  The difference is that Real Madrid have been more consistent than us”.

Two special months

Tata Martino pointed out today that the next two months would determine how successful a season it will be for FC Barcelona. “Whatever happens in the league, we have a Cup final and the Champions League, and in the Champions league we’ve drawn one of the best three teams in Europe.  We’re four matches away from playing another final.  It’s the CL quarterfinals and nobody should think it’ll be comfortable.  We’re in the mix for the lot.  These players have been through this before”.