Next Game

Malaga v Barcelona

Wednesday, 24 September 2014, 21:00

Spanish Primera BBVA

Last Game

Levante 0 - 5 Barcelona

Sunday, 21 September 2014, 20:00

Spanish Primera BBVA

Barca boss defends selection

Gerardo Martino defended his decision to leave both Lionel Messi and Neymar out of the starting line-up after Barcelona drew 0-0 with Atletico Madrid in the top-of-the-table clash at the Vicente Calderon.

Last Updated: 12/01/14 at 10:01 Post Comment

Lionel Messi (c) and Neymar (r): Left on the bench

Lionel Messi (c) and Neymar (r): Left on the bench

Four-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is yet to start a competitive match since tearing a hamstring at the start of November, although he scored twice after coming on as a second-half substitute in Barca's 4-0 win over Getafe in the Copa del Rey in midweek.

He played 45 minutes against Atletico, replacing the injured Andres Iniesta.

Neymar, meanwhile, was forced to miss the Getafe game with gastroenteritis and did not appear at the Calderon until the 66th minute, coming on for Alexis Sanchez.

Although Messi glanced a header wide of goal and forced a save from Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, neither player had the desired impact in what was a tight game between Spain's top two.

"They weren't ready to start, any other coach would have done the same," insisted Martino in the post-match press conference.

The Argentinian coach admitted that the injury to Iniesta forced him to give Messi more minutes than he had planned, but thought his compatriot did well in the circumstances.

"We were thinking he would play less of the game than he did, but he looked sharp and created two chances," he said.

"Atletico also made things uncomfortable with him.

"It's my job to take decisions like this and I think it was for the best.

"Neymar had a stomach problem before the Getafe game and that always makes you weaker.

"We know Messi scored two goals (against Getafe) but we shouldn't forget that he was inactive for the first 60 minutes."

Barca remain top of the Primera Division and ahead of Atletico on goal difference at the half-way point in the season, and Martino reflected: "A point here is good, even though we wanted to win. We were up against a team that picks up a lot of points, we created chances and joined in the fight.

"Being top after the first half of the season with 50 points isn't bad. We've picked up a lot of points although we haven't played well in every game, but we're getting better and will improve as the season goes on."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

ilarious, thanks for that. But if I may, I do suspect the reason of your partners' ire is not Tottenham, but most probably all the compusilve gambling :)

DannySmith
Backing Costa To Keep Banging 'Em In

T

wo police horses in a paddock. Horse 1: What's with the long face? Horse 2: I'm working St James Park this weekend.

hump3.
Pardew braced for protests

T

wo things. First, I can't stop reading your name as 'Dane Bowers'. Second, you used the words 'philosophy' and 'Redknapp' in the same sentence.

ajsr1982
Can United's Defence Handle Ulloa?

Footer 365

No concerns over Steven Gerrard, says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers remains confident that Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard will continue to deliver at the highest level.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hails strength of Abou Diaby ahead of return

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hailed the strength of character in Abou Diaby following his latest injury comeback.

Premier League: Brendan Rodgers says Mario Balotelli is a 'good guy'

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says he is enjoying working with Mario Balotelli.

Mail Box

Will Rodgers Finally Drop Gerrard?

The mailbox wants to know if Brendan Rodgers has the stones to drop Steven Gerrard. Plus, thoughts on Wayne Rooney's display, sitting down, and thanking United fans...

Clattenburg And Assistants Should Be Suspended

It's a Mailbox containing Manchester United fans taking defeat to Leicester pretty well, plus some long thoughts on Gerrard and Liverpool, plus Southampton congratulations...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property