Martino defends Pique comments
Gerardo Martino says the “commotion” in Catalonia which has followed Gerard Pique’s comments on Barcelona’s change of style this season has been completely overblown.
Pique suggested in a recent interview with Gazzetta dello Sport that Barca had been “slaves to tiki-taka” under former coaches Josep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova, and that he was happy that new boss Martino was adding more tactical variation to their game.
However, Martino told reporters after training on Friday morning the La Masia-educated defender had also said he wanted Barca to evolve while maintaining the unique philosophy which had brought the team such success in recent seasons, but that the more sensational reporting of his interview had neglected to mention that part.
“I do not agree with all the commotion,” Martino said. “I do not think [Pique] would say anything bad. If you take four words out of context, you can make it look different. He said he was delighted to play like this, but that opponents get to know you, and Barca must have alternatives for when you cannot play your normal style. What we are looking for, and what Pique said, is to recover all facets of play, so that we are not predictable.”
Looking forward to Saturday evening's La Liga clash with Sevilla at the Camp Nou, Martino confirmed that Sergio Busquets has recovered from the knock which saw him miss Spain’s two recent games, while Pedro Rodriguez will be given a rest.
“It is just to do with rotations,” the Argentine said. “We must take into account the minutes played with his national team. [Pedro] played a very intense game against Chile [for Spain on Tuesday], he played well, but all 90 minutes. No player wants to be given a rest, I do not know any who come to you asking to be left out. These decisions are made because we need players for nine or ten months, not just a few weeks.”
Barca’s two celebrated South American attackers Neymar and Lionel Messi should be fine to play in the game, though, Martino suggested.
“They have trained well, especially today,” he said. “Neymar played more than Leo, because he played two games, but they have arrived fine, have trained well. We will see how they are tomorrow and if they can play the full game.”
His side would need to be on their guard for Saturday’s game as Sevilla coach Unai Emery had shown he could cause Barca problems during his time as Valencia boss, Martino recalled.
“I expect a difficult game, as always against Emery’s teams,” he said. “We must be prepared. This is one of the few leagues where you must always be alert for every game. We cannot give away any type of advantage.”