Martino: Barca are getting there

Tata Martino believes that post-match focus on Barcelona should analyse their improved second-half performance against Ajax.

The Catalans eventually defeated their Dutch opponents 4-0, but struggled for complete control of the match during the first half in particular.

“We were better in the second half, better in terms of our passing game,” Martino defended to reporters post-match.

“We didn't play well in the first half, with many long balls. We are still making mistakes but we are improving game by game.

“If we had played the second half like we did the first we would have taken a step back but we corrected our errors and I believe that we took a step forward.

“We had a noticeable change. I think our victory is just especially because of what we did in the second half.

“Barcelona recently reached footballing excellence and therefore the fans are more demanding. I understand that they didn’t like the first half, that they weren’t satisfied.

“But they should be fairly satisfied with the second half.

“It was very important for me and for the club to have begun with a victory in this group stage.

“We're getting back to where Barcelona have always been. People are saying we're trying to change the style, but that's not true. We are looking for alternatives.

“We are trying to reach the same place Barca always reach. We don’t want to change the team’s style of play.

“But I saw Rafael Marquez make long passes too five years ago. It doesn’t mean we’re changing the style if we add alternatives to our play.

“Some of the players worked hard rather than being brilliant, like [Dani] Alves and Alexis [Sanchez]. I liked Andres [Iniesta's] performance – he's getting better.

“In general I thought the team did well. We need to keep the performance levels up over the whole 90 minutes.”

Martino rested Xavi Hernandez from the starting line-up for this game, with Cesc Fabregas coming into midfield.

“Today Xavi was on the bench, but on another day it could be any other player.

“We've got three players for those positions who play for the national side, and – unless one can play out wide – when I want to play with two, I'll rotate as I think best.”

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