Barcelona's growing injury list not an excuse: Gerardo Martino
The Catalans will be without World Player of the Year Lionel Messi for the first time since he tore his left hamstring, and they were dealt another huge blow when goalkeeper Victor Valdes was ruled out for the rest of the year with a calf injury in midweek.sports Updated: Nov 22, 2013 20:49 IST
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has said his side's growing injury list should not serve as an excuse if they fail to keep their 100% home league record going against Granada on Saturday.
The Catalans will be without World Player of the Year Lionel Messi for the first time since he tore his left hamstring, and they were dealt another huge blow when goalkeeper Victor Valdes was ruled out for the rest of the year with a calf injury in midweek.
Dani Alves, Xavi Hernandez and long-term absentee Jordi Alba are also missing from Martino's threadbare squad, but the Argentine believes those coming in should have enough quality to solidify Barca's place at the top of La Liga.
"It is a difficult game for what Granada represent and what they are doing away from home this season," he said.
"They have had a lot of good away results and I think that is where the primary difficulty comes from.
"The situation with the injuries is what it is. I think they serve only to be excuses and we should never allow them to take away from an upcoming game.
"I don't want to undermine the importance of those that are missing, nor the merit of those that will come in, but ever since I arrived here I have spoken about the quality of our squad so I don't see why we should be weaker.
"We are without the best player in the world and the best goalkeeper in the world, but we have good replacements."
The sheer number of muscular injuries in particular suffered by Barcelona players so far this season has led many to question the physical preparation of the squad during pre-season.
However, Martino insisted that at the moment there is no plans to make any significant changes to his side's training regime.
"The serious injuries we have suffered have been those to Jordi, Leo and Victor. There have been other minor muscular injuries, but, generally, there is no concern at the moment. If we have a much greater number then it is something we would have to look at."
On top of those absent through injury, Martino's task of picking his side for the visit of Granada is further complicated by the fact many of those in the squad have just arrived back from long journeys with their national sides.
The former Paraguay boss admitted that he will bear in mind the number of kilometres some of his troops have travelled in recent days, but that his normal rotation policy has been hampered by the number of injuries.
"We will have the journeys in mind but we cannot be as precise in rotating as in other situations because we don't have more players."
The one piece of good news for Martino is that Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas have both been passed fit to feature after sitting out Spain's trip to Africa, whilst youngsters Adama Traore and Jean Marie Dongou are also included to bolster the 18-man squad.