Martino not afraid to rotate stars
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino insists he was not fazed by Lionel Messi and Neymar's reactions to being substituted in Tuesday's win over Real Sociedad and will continue to rotate his squad for their benefit.
There were reports of a rift growing between Martino and Messi after the Argentine was brought off, but those doubts have since been allayed.
Although Martino admitted Messi was disappointed at being taken off, he has no plans to change his tactics and is not afraid to make controversial decisions.
When quizzed on his relationship with Messi, Martino said: "I see him as very well. I have no disagreements with him nor comparisons with other seasons, this is the first that I am working with him.
"Against Rayo he did not score but for me it was his best performance. Leo does not like being changed nor does Neymar, Xavi, Cesc and Iniesta. But I was hired to make decisions that relate to the health of the team and the players over the season, so that they are all fit at the decisive stage of the season.
"I’m going to do that and I am aware that no-one likes to be taken off, I reflect that and understand. Traditionally it happens with any player, but we are managing the minutes with a view to everything, we cannot divert our attention if we want the full squad in the final stretch."
Martino also detailed his plans for Neymar as he expects the Brazilian to require rest following the next international break.
"Since August he is the player, bar Victor Valdes, to have played the most minutes in the team and he has been called up for two friendlies," Martino added. "If he maintains his current line of recent games with Brazil, he will play a lot. I understand that and must protect him and take care.
"At some stage he will have to rest because I do not want him to be exhausted by the end of the season. He has played eight games in 28 days and that's a lot for anyone, if you are 30, 28 or 21."