Martino happy with Barca variation
Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino was delighted with his side’s first-half display as they brushed aside Real Sociedad 4-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday to extend their winning start to the league campaign to six games.
After being out-possessed for the first time in more than five years in the 4-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, Barca looked more like their old selves with 68 percent of the ball as they pulled Sociedad to pieces in the first period.
Goals from Neymar, Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets put them 3-0 up at the break, and Marc Bartra rounded off the scoring for the hosts after Alberto de la Bella had pulled a goal back for Sociedad.
“I am happy with everything that we saw. We want to have variation in our play, a change of pace and vertical attacks and it was all there, more in the first-half than in the second.
“However, we maintained our pressing for the whole match and that is sensational news for us.”
In accordance with his policy of rotating and resting his stars when possible, Martino withdrew both Messi and Neymar in the final quarter and the Argentine insisted that it is his job to protect Messi, even if his compatriot never wants to come off.
“He never wants to leave the field but I have to look after him. He needs to be in the right condition for the business end of the season.
“I have spoken with him and he never wants to come off because Leo always wants to play and finish the games. But if I change him it is so he can accumulate rest, I will not change him in a tight game.”
The only negative to come out of the match for the hosts was an injury picked up by Javier Mascherano.
The Argentine had to replaced by Bartra with 10 minutes of the first-half remaining due to a hamstring problem and is due to undergo more tests on Wednesday.
“Apparently he has a muscular injury. It didn’t have anything to do with the knock he received earlier in the game but it prevented him from running at full capacity,” said Martino.
“He brings us professionalism, sacrifice, speed, intelligence, he supports the group and he is player whose importance is very well recognised both within the dressing room and by the fans.”
Defeat extended Sociedad’s winless streak to five games in all competitions and Busquets believes their more open style actually aided Barca to find their rhythm.
“It is obvious that some opponents will let you play a little more than others,” the midfielder told reporters.
“Sociedad had a great campaign last season and qualified for the Champions League, but we played very well in the first-half.”
The Spanish international was delighted to open his goalscoring account for the season and admitted his left-footed strike from 20 yards midway through the first-half may even be the best goal he has ever scored.
“It could be (my best goal), it was a very pretty goal from outside the area with my weaker foot. I am happy because it helped the team to win.”