Martino: Barca must be ourselves

Tata Martino wants Barcelona to play their natural game and not worry about the pressure of reaching the Copa del Rey final.

Los Cules play Real Sociedad at Anoeta on Wednesday night in the second leg of the semi-final, with the winners to meet Real Madrid.

Madrid dispatched city rivals Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, winning 2-0 on the night and 5-0 on aggregate.

Barca go into the game with a 2-0 lead from the first leg but Martino wants his players to approach the fixture as they would any other.

“We must become owners of the game, remove the opponent’s character and be ourselves,” Martino said at his pre-match Press conference.

“This will calm the crowd and the opponent. We do not want a game of back and forth on the counter because they have players who can do much harm.

“We can’t think about what happened in the first leg. We consider it 0-0 going in.”

Martino went on to say that small factors can prove decisive in any game and wants Barca to remain focused in the early going.

“In the first and second halves of games we create virtually the same number of chances but it’s the effectiveness of the opponent that changes,” Martino said.

“If there is something that always decides the game it’s what happens in the first few minutes, to placate the opponent or fire them up.”

Martino has named a 25-man squad for the tie and was questioned as to his thinking in calling up every member of the team.

“We are 90 minutes away from one of three possible finals at the end of the season and I think we’re all good.

“For us, it’s important to have the possibility of securing a final before the end of February.”

Neymar is approaching a return to action and Martino confirmed the Champions League tie with Manchester City is the target.

“Today he has done his second workout with the group. He did well, had no pain and physically he’s fine.

“He’ll play when I see fit and when there are fewer risks. We have an important game against City.”

Martino was also asked for his thoughts on the furore over refereeing that has erupted in recent weeks and the Argentine agreed with his Madrid counterpart, Carlo Ancelotti, that referees in Spain are under too much pressure.

“I believe there is a situation and a week that has had a lot of impact,” Martino said.

“I don’t know if the officials can ignore all the talk of them during the week.

“Not having experience of other Leagues I can’t compare, for example, with the Premier League, but I get the feeling referees there get more freedom.

“It seems they can make a mistake and nothing will happen.

“Here, if there’s an error, depending on who it’s against, it has significance and comments are made that may be harmful to a human being.”

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