• Champions League

Martino: Barca players 100% behind me

ESPN staff
March 11, 2014
ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti discusses the pressure Gerardo Martino is facing as Barcelona fall down the La Liga table

Gerardo Martino insists he still has the full backing of his Barcelona players despite coming in for a torrent of criticism for the club's recent run of poor form.

Barcelona face Manchester City at Camp Nou on Wednesday with a 2-0 aggregate lead heading into the last-16 second leg.

But their preparations have been less than perfect with Saturday's limp 1-0 La Liga defeat at Valladolid a second loss in three games for Barcelona since their win at the Etihad Stadium.

Although club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has regularly backed his coach in public in recent weeks, speculation continues to suggest that Martino and Barcelona might end their association this summer.

But Martino is adamant his squad are still motivated to play for him, and refused to discuss his future at the club. "I feel 100% backed by my players," he told his pre-match press conference. "Without a doubt. That is probably my biggest motivation.

"I never think I need to talk about what I should do next season, neither my own position, or the players who are here or who are not here."

Barcelona remain well-placed on three fronts in their chase for silverware, given they have already qualified for the Copa del Rey final and are currently just four points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid, and Martino has told his critics to count his side out at their peril.

"This team is alive, it has pride, courage, it knows how to play these games. I would not take the risk of discarding Barca," added Martino.

"The lack of consistency is a football issue - not to do with motivation or individual players' level dropping. We are in a pretty favourable position.

"We just have to leave to one side what happened in the game at Valladolid. That was, for football, our worst game of the season."

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