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The Blaugrana boss reacts sarcastically to suggestions that his side are struggling in both attack and defence, though he accepts that there is "much room for improvement"

Gerardo Martino reacted sarcastically to suggestions in the Spanish press that Barcelona are in "crisis" ahead of their Champions League clash with AC Milan.

While the Rossoneri are in the bottom half of Serie A, the Blaugrana have, by comparison, dropped only two points after 11 games in La Liga this season.

Nonetheless, the Catalans have been criticised for a number of allegedly sub-standard showings of late, prompting Martino to bite back ahead of Wednesday's game at Camp Nou.

"We are also in crisis, so there is not much difference in relation to how both Barcelona and AC Milan are coming into this game," said the Argentine, smirking. "In this way, we are pretty evenly matched.

"But you [the media] created this 'crisis'. I have not spoken of a crisis. The debate has gone beyond reality. I'm just interested in the players and what we try to do in the dressing room but we are always the first to say that we have much room for improvement."

Martino also leapt to the defence of star forward Lionel Messi, who, after Friday's 1-0 win over Espanyol, has now gone four Primera Division games without a goal.

"Everything that Messi does is decisive," the Barca boss remarked. "I'm very happy to have him on the team.

"If we go back, there has always been a point in the season when Leo has not scored the goals that he usually does and yet we are always coming back to the same story.

"He has gone a few games without scoring but has contributed to the team, as always. The goals will come. The only thing we can do to stop all this negativity is to keep working and keep trusting in one another.

"The most important thing is trust. Messi will have many more great days and I bet tomorrow will be one of them."