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Martino defends goal-shy Messi

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has jumped to the defence of Lionel Messi as the Argentine star comes under continued attack for his recent lack of goals.

Lionel Messi was angered by reports of a spat between him and his manager Martino.
Gerardo Martino has jumped to the defence of Lionel Messi.

• Ledwith: Derby day for Barca

And despite the club’s undefeated start to the season, the 50-year-old Martino was also forced to ward off criticism of his rotation policy.

Messi started the season in sparkling fashion, scoring 12 goals in thirteen games to help the Spanish giants to the top of La Liga and in Group H of the Champions League.

But thigh problem has slowed the 26-year-old’s strike-rate recently, the three-time winner of the Ballon d’Or scoring only once in the past month.

However, Martino moved to defuse the hype surrounding Messi’s current lack of goals, believing he has been restrained by his injury.     

"If Messi doesn't score three goals in a game people start to think there's a problem," he told reporters.

"Injuries happen. To Messi, or anyone."

And Martino confirmed he would continue to persist with his rotation policy despite the reigning champions losing some of their ‘control’ when the changes are made.

"If you rotate, you always take a risk. When we lose, there will be criticism," said the Argentine. "But I continue to think it's the best thing to do.

"We don't like it that we don't control some games, but when it happens, we always come out of it as the best."

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