Barcelona news

Martino wants 'summer champion' tag

January 11, 2014
By ESPN staff

Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino has urged his team to continue their good season in La Liga after admitting “no one remembers the 'winter champion”.

• Tomas: Barcelona winter champions after Atletico draw
• Hunter: Title race set to tighten after Calderon draw

But the 51-year-old admitted that Atletico Madrid will be fighting for the title all season after the two clubs played out a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Nothing could separate La Liga’s joint leaders in the Spanish capital with Barcelona remaining as leaders on goal difference alone.

And Martino said he was happy to earn an away point at Barca’s nearest rival, but admitted his squad could not let its guard down for the remainder of the season.

“The draw is good, away against the other Liga leader. We wanted to win but I can't reproach the players anything,” Marino told reporters.

“Winter champion? That means nothing, no one remembers the 'winter champion', I prefer to be 'summer champion'.

“Atletico will compete for the Liga until the end."

Both Neymar and Lionel Messi started on the bench for the top of the table clash with Martino admitting the superstar duo were not ready to start against Atletico Madrid.

"Messi and Neymar weren't ready to complete game, so started on bench. Leo subbed on bit earlier than planned after [Andres] Iniesta knock,” Martino continued.

“Messi not starting? He played a great half an hour on Wednesday, but we couldn't forget he has been out for 60 days.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona midfielder Xavi said the match against Atletico was “very intense”.

“Very balanced game, very intense, Atletico are a great team,” he told reporters.

“They have a different style, but they execute it perfectly.”

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