Vicente Calderon

Next Game

A Madrid v Barcelona

Wednesday, 28 January 2015, 20:00

Copa del Rey Quarter Final

Last Game

Elche 0 - 6 Barcelona

Saturday, 24 January 2015, 17:00

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

O

ne of the conclusions from this list is that Man City should never buy a striker in January - good luck Wilfried Bony....

Savinator
F365's Top Ten Worst January Panic Buys

I

was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Fly1ngh1gh
Cup defeat shames Mourinho

G

reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

cheshire-gooner
16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

Footer 365

Capital One Cup: Chelsea secure place in final after Branislav Ivanovic's extra-time goal sinks Liverpool

Branislav Ivanovic's extra-time goal gave Chelsea a 2-1 aggregate win over Liverpool and a place in the Capital One Cup final.

Three Bears consortium criticise Rangers board over Mike Ashley loan

The Three Bears consortium have criticised Rangers' decision to shun their offer in favour of Sports Direct's £10m loan.

Transfer news: Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko happy at the club

Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko is happy to stay at the club, despite rumours he is a target for Arsenal.

Mail Box

The Problem With FA Cup Shocks...

...is that the draw for the next round is pretty shocking. Blackburn v Stoke, anybody? We also have mails on LVG and ManUnited, who drew plenty under Fergie...

You're Man Utd, For Crying Out Loud!

Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company