Messi fully fit to face Ajax - Martino

The Argentine coach insists his compatriot has recovered from his hamstring injury and admits to feeling nervous ahead of his first Champions League match
Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino has confirmed that Lionel Messi is fit to face Ajax in Wednesday's Champions League encounter.

The Argentine ace has been struggling with a hamstring injury sustained in the Supercopa de Espana against Atletico Madrid, but Martino insists the player has been given sufficient rest to fully recover from the problem.

"Leo Messi has to be one of the players that has featured in fewer minutes [so far this season]," Martino told a press conference.

"He was out against Malaga, he played 45 minutes against Atletico Madrid in the [Supercopa] first leg and with Argentina he only played one match, so he is fit.

"He has recovered from that hamstring blow against Atletico so we think he's fine to carry on playing. We will see what happens in the future and how or when we rest him."

Wednesday's meeting with the Dutch champions marks Martino's first match in the Champions League, and the Argentine admits he is feeling the pressure given Barca's remarkable form in the competition in recent seasons.

"I am very excited about it, although obviously I feel nervous about us living up to our standards in such a prestigious competition," he continued.

"When I took on the Barcelona job, I knew that if we didn't win a title this season it would be a failure.

"If I am here it's because I believe we can repeat the glorious moments of the club in recent seasons. The team achieved excellency recently and that is hard to equal. No one can deny Bayern [Munich] are amongst the best clubs in the world, so it's feasible to lose that kind of match."

Neymar is also set to make his bow in Europe's top tournament, and Martino believes the entire club is relishing the prospect of seeing the Brazilian in action against the continental elite.

"It's Neymar's first match in the Champions League, the first of many in his career," the 50-year-old said. "The players are just as excited as I am, the veterans and the new ones, we all have the same excitement. Neymar is helping the team a lot not just in the attack but also in defensive tasks. If he does well, then the coaching staff will also do well."

Martino went on to admit that, despite a convincing run of results in 2013-14, the Blaugrana must strive to improve the standard of their performances - particularly their defending at set-pieces.

"I think our obligation is to be permanently self-critical. We have made mistakes in every match and that needs resolving," added the former Newell's Old Boys boss.

"They have been different mistakes to the ones we made in the Supercopa de Espana. We want to improve every day, be more solid, much more convincing.

"No problem in football is unsolvable so if something needs changing, then we will. Barcelona have had problems with set pieces, which is more of a physical problem and we can't find a solution to that. Instead we have to find a better way of defending to be as efficient as possible.

"On the other hand, despite the mistakes, we have won four league games and won a trophy."