Xavi Hernandez has said it was inevitable Tata Martino would come in for criticism after taking over as Barcelona Coach.
Martino replaced Tito Vilanova before the start of the season and despite Barca showing early good form, was not universally popular around Camp Nou.
In an interview with FIFA’s official website, Xavi said Martino was hampered by having to deal with the memory Barca’s success in Pep Guardiola’s reign.
“Over and above Guardiola, who did an excellent job as coach – while we also did excellently in terms of results and the football we played, the issue is more down to the legacy we left.
“We scaled the heights in pretty much every way: footballistically, tactically, technically and physically.
“The standard of play was excellent and, since then, you have to expect comparisons to be made. And often, as the saying goes, ‘comparisons are odious’.
“So, in that sense we’re left open to criticism, as we know how difficult life can be within Barca, but Tata has both experience and character.
“The players really respect him and he’s proving he’s got what it takes to coach Barcelona.
And not just results-wise: the team’s play is also improving. We’re doing well and are in good form.”
Xavi added that it was down to Barcelona to try and stop Guardiola’s current employers, Bayern Munich, winning a second Champions League trophy in succession.
“I think that we’re still capable of big things in La Liga and in Europe, though clearly Bayern are very strong.
“Last year they won practically everything and this year they’re still on course [to do so again].
“They have to be considered among the real favourites to win the Champions League again.”
Xavi also revealed that there is no player in the world he would rather call a teammate now or throughout history than Lionel Messi.
“When it comes to striking up an understanding and enjoying your football, you always want to play alongside the very best, right?
“But in my view, Messi is the greatest player of all time. He’s the best there is.”