Barcelona assistant coach Jorge Pautasso says he and coach Gerardo Martino have not come to the Camp Nou to “betray” the team’s previous style, just to add a few extra useful details.
Pautasso was taking Friday afternoon’s pre-training press conference, as Martino had travelled to Argentina to attend his father’s funeral.
The former Newell's Old Boys player said the new Blaugrana coaching team had no intention of completely ripping up Barca’s previously successful tactical blueprint.
“The idea is to keep playing the same way as Barcelona have done in recent years,” Pautasso said. “We are not here to betray Barca’s style. We have come here to add things, not to take away from what Barca have done in recent years. We are here to get the team playing well again; that does not mean we are changing to a counterattacking side.”
Players including Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Dani Alves all said after Wednesday’s 4-0 Champions League group win against Ajax that they were not happy with Barca’s current performances, despite the side winning all their Liga games so far.
Pautasso believes such self-analysis is a positive thing, and that Martino values the players’ input.
“Gerardo’s idea is always to talk to them and exchange ideas; that is fundamental for Barcelona,” he said. “For example, after the Sevilla game, the players themselves were self-critical. They are great players and think about the game from day to day.”
Barca travel to Madrid’s Estadio Vallecas to face Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, having won 5-0 there last season, and 7-0 the year before.
Paco Jemez’s side have also started the new season with some heavy defeats, losing 5-0 at Atletico Madrid and 5-0 at Malaga. Nonetheless, Pautasso said he expected a difficult game for Barca this weekend.
“It will be a difficult game tomorrow, as even though they have lost heavily away, they have done well at home this season,” he said. “They are a very offensive team. We expect our quality to help, but they are a team who do not renounce their own attacking ideas.”
Gerard Pique remains a doubt for the game after picking up a thigh muscle problem against Ajax. That means with Carles Puyol still yet to return from his long-standing knee problem, Marc Bartra is likely to start if required.
“Pique had some muscular problems, but he has recovered pretty well,” Pautasso said. “We will see after training this evening if he is able to travel to Madrid. If Gerard can play, he will play; the logical substitute is Bartra. Adriano could be an option, but it is Marc’s natural position.”
The Blaugrana coaches are expected to continue their rotation policy for the game, with Xavi Hernandez and Pedro Rodriguez -- both on the bench on Wednesday -- among the players likely to come back in.