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Mar 20, 2014

Andres Iniesta backs Tata Martino

ESPN FC's Sid Lowe previews the upcoming Clasico, which could decide this year's title.

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has underlined his support for coach Gerardo Martino ahead of Sunday’s clasico with Real Madrid.

Tomas: Focus on clasico, not Martino
Ledwith: Liga or UCL for Barca?

There has been significant speculation over Martino, who replaced Tito Vilanova in the summer, despite the club insisting they have no plans to replace the Argentine.

"I would love for him to stay on with us," Iniesta said during a news conference. "He is more than qualified for that. We have to try to win on Sunday and battle for everything. That must be our mentality and we can’t get distracted from this task. The experience for him to go to the Bernabeu will be unforgettable. Martino has lived great matches like this one in Argentina and we hope that he goes with a great memory of his first clasico in Madrid."

Asked about the difference between this year’s team and last year's, Iniesta said "Barcelona is always a good team no matter who is the coach."

He added that Martino is a great motivator.

"You need the coach to be a beacon of light the team can follow," Iniesta said. "We all have a lot of experience and that is enough for the team. He is our coach and we will follow him until the end."

Barcelona have struggled in La Liga in recent months, slipping to third in the table, four points behind in-form leaders Madrid, who are now unbeaten in 31 games in all competitions. Iniesta encouraged the fans to have faith.

"The demands of this club's fans puts pressure on us but that is normal," he said. "No one thinks we are going to make it easy for Madrid."

About former Barca coach Pep Guardiola, who recently said he left the club because he could no longer motivate the players, Iniesta added that he wasn't surprised.

"He never said that the players weren't motivated. It was something within him," Iniesta said. "He must have not been able to see clearly and decided not to continue. Without him we won the league title and we made it to Champions League semifinals."

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