Martino on Messi, Malaga & Bale

Tata Martino has admitted that leaving Lionel Messi out of the Barcelona squad to face Malaga is ‘a precaution’.

The Argentine goalscorer was omitted from the squad to play the Andalusian side after suffering a thigh sprain against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

But the Coach has claimed that there is nothing to worry about, whilst also commenting on Neymar, Gareth Bale and Iker Casillas.

“Messi has recovered well. [Leaving him out for] tomorrow is a precaution,” he told a Press conference.

“We’re optimistic, but it’s only been three days since [the Supercopa first leg on] Wednesday and, with the season having just started, it’s risky.

“He looks good to me and I’m not worried about what’s happening or what’s being said. He prepared well while on holiday.

“What happened the other day was just chance.

“Having or not having the best player in the world makes a difference to matches. We have to try to win and not hide behind his absence if things don’t go well

“Neymar’s getting better and better. He’s getting training sessions under his belt and getting to know the squad and the club. It can’t be rushed.

“The Coach has to give the player support so that he can reach maximum fitness. Neymar doesn’t have to take charge just because Messi is out.

“We have too many good players to say he is definitely going to start. He can play in any game, but nothing will come about just because of his goal against Atlético Madrid.

“We’ll take things step by step and with no pressure.

“I drew more conclusions from the match [against Atletico] in Madrid than against Levante. I don’t agree with what was said about our pressing against Atletico. The team pressed very well. We created a lot of three or four-on-ones and they didn’t have many opportunities on the break.

“I think Gareth Bale a very good player. His price is a lack of respect to the world situation.

“The Iker situation is an issue that has nothing to do with me. I’ve only just arrived in Spain and I’m not going to get myself into problems.”

Martino then commented on Sunday’s opponents, whilst also revealing he turned down the chance to manage Malaga.

“They looked good against Valencia. They played well defensively, coming out from the back on the break. With [forward Roque] Santa Cruz they have running in them and they can hold up the ball well from the midfield. We’ll see what we come up against and what their game plan against us is.

“They came to Argentina and offered me the position of Coach. Just as was the case with Real Sociedad, I had to reject the offer. We [Newell’s Old Boys] were in the Copa Libertadores and I had to complete my job.”

Tags Bale Casillas Martino Messi Neymar