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Athletic defeat makes things difficult - Martino

The coach refused to criticise his players after they suffered their second defeat in a row when Iker Muniain struck to give Athletic Bilbao a win

Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino has admitted that Barcelona's first Liga defeat "makes things difficult" but insisted he had no problem with his players' performance in their 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

The Catalans were beaten for the first time this season in midweek against Ajax in the Champions League and they were unable to return to winning ways thanks to Iker Muniain's second-half strike at San Mames.

The Camp Nou boss talked up his team's showing in the first 45 minutes and, though he lamented the result, the Argentine said that he is not at all disappointed and reconsidering his tactics.

"There is a lot of talk about results... This defeat makes things difficult but I must say I saw a good team, in the first half at least," Martino told reporters.

"This defeat has nothing to do with the game in Amsterdam. I think there was also a big moment in which the game could have changed massively with Neymar [when Ander Iturrapse brought down the Brazilian and was booked, not sent off].

"If I had to speak for the first 70 minutes, I'd say we played well. I saw a very good team. In the first half it was one of the best first-half performances from us this season.

"To me, there is nothing puzzling. It would be disconcerting if my team did not know what to do and I have not seen that today.

"I think they know what we need to do in games. But you are guided by results and the result is negative."

Barca will expect to return to winning ways when they face Cartagena in the Copa del Rey on Friday.

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