Tata Martino has taken responsibility for Barcelona’s defeat to Real Sociedad, insisting he ‘read the game wrong.’
The 3-1 defeat at Anoeta on Saturday night leaves Barca three points behind Real Madrid, who saw off Elche at Santiago Bernabeu.
Atletico Madrid play at Osasuna on Sunday night and could also move three points ahead of the champions.
“I’m left with the pain of losing,” Martino told his post-match Press conference.
“La Real played well and I misread the game. I thought our performance should have been similar to the one we put in against La Real in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.”
Martino was sent to the stands during the game but declined to discuss the incident in great detail.
“I’ve nothing to say,” the Coach added.
“The referee made his decision and that’s all. There was no exchange of words with either Real Sociedad’s Coach or his players.”
Barca fielded both Alex Song and Sergio Busquets, deploying two holding midfielders. Martino explained h was attempting to emulate Busquets’ role with Spain.
“We had spoken to Busquets about it – he’s more used to playing alongside another holding midfielder with the national side,” Martino argued.
Martino was also probed regarding his decision to make six changes to the side that beat Manchester City on Tuesday, one of which saw Xavi Hernandez dropped from the starting XI.
With Barca chasing the game Martino introduced his two of his three allotted substitutes but Xavi wasn’t among them.
“Every player thinks that they should play games like this one,” Martino said when asked if Xavi was annoyed at not being involved.
“I‘d already taken Cesc and Alexis off, which meant we had four forwards and a line of three in midfield. We thought that it wasn’t the right moment to bring Xavi on.
“With the score at 3-1, we didn’t think he would be necessary for the remaining 20 to 25 minutes.”
Martino was questioned as to why he waited to make changes to the team despite a poor showing in the first half.
“We delayed making any changes because we believed that Leo’s equalizer had put us back in the game and we wanted to wait to see how the second half developed,” Martino replied.
“We conceded two goals in quick succession. Perhaps the decision not to make any changes was not the right one, and we made a mistake by thinking at 1-1, we were back in it.
“Our idea of playing three up front meant dismantling our usual set-up in midfield,” Martino continued.
“We thought that the physical exertion of the Manchester City game could present problems and we rotated so that every member of the squad would feel important.
“But of course, it’s clear that rotating the team is only a good idea when it works.”