Barcelona news

Vilanova plays down Messi-Villa row

September 23, 2012
By ESPN staff

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has played down a row between Lionel Messi and David Villa during their 2-0 win over Granada.

Lionel Messi and David Villa
PA PhotosLionel Messi and David Villa had a row against Granada

Barcelona looked likely to drop their first points of the season before a stunner from Xavi Hernandez broke the deadlock and Borja Gomez was forced into a late own goal.

But it was a frustrating evening for the Catalans and Villa, starting for the first time since his return from injury, was seen as being reprimanded by Messi in the 44th minute for not making a pass quickly enough. The two argued for a while, and then Villa was substituted early on the in the second half.

Vilanova, though, insisted it was all part of the game and that there was no issue between his players.

"There is nothing to gather [from what happened between Villa and Messi]," Vilanova stated at his post-match press conference. "Whoever plays football knows discussions are a normality, and part of the game.

"Such occurrences are common signs that a team is alive. Not exchanging views for betterment would honestly suggest worse. What was important was to make it 15 points out of 15."

Messi also reassured fans that there were no problems with Villa and told Barca TV: "Do not look for problems where there are none. Villa and I get along very well, it was just normal banter during games."