Martino fretting about Barca's travel sickness
BARCELONA coach Gerardo Martino admitted 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 Valladolid on Saturday.
The Catalans have won just once in five away games in the Spanish Primera Liga this year, and lost their last game on the road away at Sociedad.
"What is worrying is that at this stage of the season, when the league is decided, we have taken no points from the last two away games," he said.
He has rotated his squad throughout the season to keep them rested for the decisive final months.
"All the measures and care we took in the first part of the season were done with the idea of arriving in the final part of the season in good shape. It is obvious at the moment that they are not having the desired effect," Martino lamented.
"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."
With a meeting against bitter rivals Real Madrid - whom they trailed by a point ahead of Real's match against Levante yesterday - in two weeks' time at the Santiago Bernabeu, Martino accepted that anything but a win for Barcelona would all but end their title chances.
"It is clear that right now, we are not in our best form and we need 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 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 Hernandez said they would have to improve greatly if they want to be sure of finishing off the job against Manuel Pellegrini's men, who met Wigan in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last night.
"We cannot draw any positive conclusions - we need to improve a lot looking ahead to Wednesday. It just wasn't to be," said Hernandez.
"It is a very painful defeat, it is a step backwards, but we need to turn that around for City on Wednesday."