Real Madrid can pull four points clear of rivals with defeat of Levante
Martino worried as sloppy Barcelona slip to another defeat
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino says he is worried about his side’s shocking away form since the turn of the year after they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Real Valladolid on Saturday.
The Catalans have won just once in five away games in La Liga in 2014 and also lost in their last game on the road away at Real Sociedad.
“What is worrying is that at the stage of the season when the league is decided, we have taken no points from the last two away games,” Martino said.
The Argentine has rotated his squad constantly throughout the season with the idea that they would be well-rested for the final few decisive months of the season.
“All the measures and care we took the first part of the season was done with the idea of arriving in the final part of the season in good shape. It is obvious at the moment that is not having the desired effect,” Martino said.
“The players have played fewer minutes and are less fatigued than in previous years and we expected this to be the time of the year when we hit our best form. Evidently, based on the last two away games, that is not what has happened.”
Defeat means that Barcelona will fall four points behind Real Madrid should their bitter rivals beat Levante at home on Sunday.
Madrid and Barcelona then meet in two weeks’ time at the Santiago Bernabeu, and Martino said anything but a win for his side would all but end their title chances.
“Even if we had won or drawn today, we would have to have gone to the Bernabeu to try and win the game because we are behind in the league.
“It is clear that right now we are not in our best form and we need to be to be able to beat Real Madrid. There are still 15 days to go until that match for us to find ourselves.”
First up for Martino’s men, though, is Manchester City in the Uefa Champions League at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Barca hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the last-16 tie, but midfielder Xavi said they would have to improve greatly if they are to be sure of finishing off the job against Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
“We cannot draw any positive conclusions, we need to improve a lot looking ahead to Wednesday. It just wasn’t to be,” Xavi said. “It is a very painful defeat, it is a step backwards, but we need to turn that around for City on Wednesday.”
Dani Alves also issued a rallying cry to his teammates to get over the defeat as quickly as possible.
“If we fail on Wednesday it will be far more damaging than today. While there is a chance, we will continue to fight. It also depends on what the others do, but all we can do is fight,” he said.
“Obviously we leave here sad and annoyed, but there is no time to feel sorry for ourselves.”
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