Martino: Barca struggled at first

Tata Martino believes Barcelona struggled for the opening third against Real Betis before responding, as he reacts to Lionel Messi’s injury.

The Blaugrana picked up a 4-1 win at the Benito Villamarin on Sunday evening to close Week 13’s fixtures, thanks to a quick-fire first-half double from Neymar and Pedro followed up by Cesc Fabregas’ double in the second half, before Jorge Molina’s last-minute penalty consolation.

“We played the game that Betis wanted to play in the first 30 minutes,” considered Martino post-match.

“We knew of the space that they left at the back but it was not our intention to play slow during the first half hour, their pressure forced us back.

“After that yes we managed to find the spaces and we played a pretty smart match. When Cesc scored the third goal the game was over.

“Betis deserved a goal for what they did during the game, for having played the first half hour as they had intended, they put us under a lot of pressure.

“This week we talked about feeling comfortable with playing father back. We have players who are good at passing the ball and they can create chances with ease.

“We didn’t pass the ball well in the first half hour and we can’t lose sight of that regardless of what followed afterward.”

Martino saw Messi pick up a suspected thigh strain midway through the first half.

“We have the best in the world but also four to five more that are among the best. So the absence of Messi can never be an excuse for not winning.

“This injury is not to the same leg that was injured the other times, it is the other leg. It has nothing to do with the recent injuries.

“I do not know anything about medicine, so what the physicians say we will follow.”

Tags Martino Messi