Charly Rexach believes Barcelona’s preparation for the game against Real Madrid has been hampered by the gossip surrounding Tata Martino.
The former Barca player and Coach has told AS that if it wasn’t for the whispers regarding Martino’s future, Barca would be looking good prior to playing at Santiago Bernabeu.
“Barca would have arrived well if not for all the extracurricular circumstances,” Rexach said.
“Without going any further, earlier this week there was talk of a possible change of Coach.
“The previous weeks people only spoke of things that have nothing to do with football.
“And it affects everyone, even the players, who are more aware of what is happening away from the field.”
Rexach was asked for his opinion on the signing of Neymar, with AS suggesting it was a mistake that has led to many of the problems Rexach refers to.
“No, the wrong party is being denounced there. That’s an old song. But it is the charm of Barcelona. You won’t see any other team in the world, none, in which a single person can cause this chaos. That’s the charm of we Catalans.
“Neymar is a major player and people haven’t only seen it sporadically in Brazil or three or four games at Camp Nou.
“All that has happened has affected him a lot.
“In recent times we talked about the club playing really good football and dominating possession but we needed more people like Lionel Messi, who could go one-on-one and unbalance the opposition. When we play on the counter it’s something we do less.
“Neymar is young and sometimes you need to sign someone that gets the respect of your opponents.”
Rexach was asked further about some perceived Barca mistakes in the transfer market – not signing a central defender and letting Thiago Alcantara leave.
“It’s a long time since Barca tried to reinforce the defence,” Rexach agreed.
“It seemed that Carles Puyol could recover and now we know he can’t it is required we sign a defender.
“I don’t know what the exact situation was [with Thiago]. He had begun to bother and ask for more minutes, under Pep Guardiola.
“So it was strange to me that he decided to leave for Bayern Munich with Pep as Coach. These things happen and sometimes I don’t understand. But it’s the player who decides.”
It was put to Rexach that Martino has radically altered the way Barca play from Guardiola’s time and Rexach didn’t disagree, but argued it was a natural development.
“Barca are in a phase where, like everything in life, cycles are ending. Victor Valdes and Puyol are both going.
“The players are getting older and Barca have to look for alternatives. What about Tata? People find it hard to get used to the changes.
“I’m talking about the general public. I remember when everyone played 4-4-2 and [Johan Cruyff] put three defenders and people said it was suicide.
“Tata plays a little more direct and people don’t like it but you have to understand, you shouldn’t despise any form of attack.
“When there are changes people are reluctant because they think what has worked for you before is eternal. It’s not because other teams will analyse it and look for ways to hurt you.
“In recent big games, the Copa del Rey and against Manchester City, the club has made a variation to the way they play: Four men in midfield.
“He’s played only Messi and Neymar, or Pedro or Alexis Sanchez. And it’s been done by not having as much possession as usual.
“That is the change I’ve seen in the last month-and-a-half and we’ll see something like this at the Bernabeu, with only two forwards, Messi and another.”