x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Martino seeks Barca reaction to Sociedad defeat

Manager backs his players to rebound in Spanish Primera Liga match against Almeria on Sunday.

Barcelona were uncharacteristically beaten 3-1 by Real Sociedad. Alvaro Barrientos / AP Photo
Barcelona were uncharacteristically beaten 3-1 by Real Sociedad. Alvaro Barrientos / AP Photo

MADRID // Gerardo Martino, the Barcelona manager, expects his side to return to winning ways by playing in the style the world has become accustomed to seeing them exhibit when they host Almeria on Sunday.

The Catalans were unrecognisable as they were beaten 3-1 by Real Sociedad last weekend with Martino taking a lot of the criticism for the performance as he tinkered with his team selection and formation.

That defeat allowed Real Madrid to move three points ahead of Barcelona for the first time in the Spanish Primera Liga this season and with just 13 games remaining, Martino knows his side can barely afford any more slip-ups if they are to retain their title.

“The fact that we didn’t perform as we would have hoped in San Sebastian obliges us even more to be better against Almeria,” he said.

“We need to change the mood as quickly as possible and a lot of that will depend on tomorrow (Sunday). Not just in whether we win, but that we play as we know how to.”

There is a chance that Barca could make up some ground on Real this weekend as Los Blancos travel to third-placed Atletico Madrid, who have yet to be beaten at home in the league this season.

Martino’s men also have a date with Madrid coming up in three weeks time and in the final of the Copa del Rey in April.

Barca are well-placed to progress in the Uefa Champions League too having beaten Manchester City 2-0 away in the first leg of their last 16 tie last week.

And the Argentine said he would definitely have settled for being alive in all three competitions in March when he was hastily appointed in the wake of Tito Vilanova’s resignation due to health problems last summer.

“It is impossible not to be aware of what happens in the Madrid derby. Whatever happens, it will continue to be in our hands if we beat Almeria.

“Everything in the league continues to depend on ourselves, but we need to win every game that remains.

“There is a reality between the mere results and the feelings of how we are playing. We have more chances of winning if we play like we did against Manchester City and less as we did against Real Sociedad.

“If you had said to us in July you can get to this point of the year, with 20 games ahead of us in three competitions, we would have taken it. We have chances in all of them and we need to fight for them.”

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