Gerardo Martino and Lionel Messi are shouldering the brunt of the blame handed out in the press for Barcelona's UEFA Champions League quarterfinal exit at the hand of La Liga rival Atletico Madrid. Despite the narrow scoreline, Los Colchoneros proved to be the far better side during Wednesday night’s 1-0 win at the Vicente Calderon, and Messi appeared to be missing in action while coach Martino proved to be unable to do anything about.
According to the Daily Mail, one headline in Spain claimed that the four-time Ballon d’Or winner ran only one mile more than goalkeeper Jose Pinto, as post-game statistics revealed that the Argentine had covered just 4.2 miles during the game -- exactly half that of Atletico gamewinner Koke.
”We weren’t really interested in Leo having a lot of participation in the game” Martino said after being asked why Messi saw so little of the ball in Atletico's win. ”We really only wanted him to have one-on-one opportunities down the right-hand side,” he added. Barca, which faces Atletico again on the final day of the La Liga season in what could prove to be a title decider, has failed to beat Diego Simeone’s men in five games now, managing just two goals. “I see no reason why the next match will be any different,” Martino replied.