‘No issue with Pique’s words’

Tata Martino has played down Gerard Pique’s comments from this week and clarified Barcelona’s stance on Lionel Messi’s involvement with Argentina.

Pique drew headlines in midweek with an interview to the Gazzetta dello Sport where he spoke of Barca having become ‘slaves to tiki-taka’ under Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova’s reign.

For the Coach who is now in charge of the team and that the defender reflected was bringing new ideas in, there is nothing wrong with what was said.

“In reality I do not see what the hype is over, I do not believe he has said anything wrong,” mused Martino to reporters today.

“If instead of the context you cling to four words, it can be taken differently. He said he is happy to play this way, but that as rivals get to know Barca, then there need to be alternatives when you cannot play your usual game.

“It is a little of what we want and what Pique says is for us to recover all the facets of our game so as not to be predictable.”

Discussion has also been on reports that Barcelona have requested to the Argentine Football Association that they rest Lionel Messi from October’s international fixtures.

“Barcelona, I believe, has made no request and having been an international Coach myself, I can hardly ask a Coach not to select a player.

“If Messi does not get selected then there is a benefit as he travels less, but we will not do anything, because I like that each player can join his national side.”

Martino, whose side face Sevilla on Saturday evening in the first fixture after the international break, was asked of the possibility of the ‘FIFA virus’ hitting his players.

“Always statistics can be looked at from one point of view, but overall I think we should focus on the present, which is very good.

“And most importantly, the players have returned from their national teams without issue and have trained well, so we have had time to prepare for tomorrow’s game.

“Hopefully we can repeat the first part of what we saw against Valencia, which is the best performance we have had since the season began.”

Pedro Rodriguez is the notable exclusion from the squad for tomorrow.

“It is only for rotation. We have an obligation to consider the minutes played in his national team. He played a very intense match with Chile, with a great performance, but he played 90 minutes.

“It is the Coach who sees when a player needs resting, whilst if I consult with the player, I know that they would not tell me they need to rest.

“These are decisions I have to take on what I see and because we need players for nine months, not a couple of months.”

Tags Argentina Martino Messi Pedro Pique