Gerardo Martino thinks that Argentine hitman Lionel Messi’s brace of goals against Sevilla last night served to silence his critics.
Messi, who has been blighted by injuries recently, was accused by former assistant coach Angel Cappa last week of losing his passion for the game.
Messi appeared unfazed by the claims from the former Barcelona assistant coach and Sevilla boss Unai Emery said before the game that such comments could only prove to “awaken the beast” – something that proved only too true as the Argentine netted twice in Barça’s 4-1 victory at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Sevilla.
The Barcelona boss feels that his star player has answered all his critics and has complete faith in him.
“What happens is they (the critics) touch his honour, but the next opponent usually pays for that, not the critics,” said Martino.
“Messi is always decisive, no matter what position. Sometimes he just draws people to the centre which gave us space on the wings.”
Andrés Iniesta also came out in the Argentine’s defense as the Catalan giants moved back into the top slot above Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.
He said: “Leo is never missing; he’s one of the very few players when given a couple of seconds or a couple of metres, he can change the face of the game.
“He does that every day and he did it today as well.
“It was important to get the win and move back to the top of the league.
“We lost the lead for six days and it didn’t take long to get it back. The conditions weren’t the best but we did it.”
Messi looks to have got his confidence back after his injuries and that’s a good sign for Martino as he seeks to step up the pressure on the two clubs from Madrid.
The Catalans now want to concentrate on their second leg tie against Real Sociedad in La Copa del Rey on Wednesday.