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Attacking stats bode poorly for Real

Five Aside
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Messi: Squad depth key for Barca

Lionel Messi believes Barcelona's squad depth was crucial to his side's 4-0 Champions League defeat of Ajax on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi celebrates after putting Barcelona into a 2-0 lead.
Messi netted a hat-trick in the rout of Ajax.

Messi scored a hat-trick and Gerard Pique found the net to open Barca's European campaign in style, but another key talking point was Gerardo Martino's decision to bench midfielder Xavi. 

Tomas: Key points

But the Argentine insists the options at Martino's disposal will help Barca progress through the competition and dedicated the win to his aggrieved coach, who lost his father earlier in the week.

"We played better in second half. It's a matter of time, we are adapting ourselves to the season," he told Canal +. "It's good to have alternatives. We got many players to do different things and take benefit of turnovers. We want to dedicate it to Martino because he's not living a good moment now."

Martino played down concerns over Xavi's omission and claims he will be experimenting with his midfield formation in Europe this season.

"We weren't as brilliant as the 4-0 could indicate," Martino said. "But we were deserved winners. In the second half we could have controlled the game better. Iniesta is improving, growing to his best form. Xavi benched? We have three players for two positions, so we'll rotate."

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