Martino: 'Impossible' to get over Champions League exit

The Blaugrana boss says he and his players remain bitterly disappointed by their European heartbreak at the hands of Liga rival Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino says the club is still reeling after its Champions League "failure."

The Blaugrana failed to reach the semifinals of Europe's premier cup competition for the first time since 2007 after losing 2-1 on aggregate to Atletico Madrid, with the Catalans having slumped to a 1-0 defeat at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Liga clash with Granada, Martino said that the Champions League exit is still playing on the players' minds, particularly as Real Madrid is also through to the last four.

“It is impossible for a team to be fully over an elimination like that in so little time,” Martino told a press conference. “For me personally getting knocked out was a failure and it will continue to be even if we win the league and cup double.

"Nobody is in the best of moods, but there is no time for lamentations. We have to get straight back to thinking about the league. Only having to play one game a week might be positive, but I’d very happily swap places with either Atletico or Real Madrid right now.”

Barcelona travels to Granada on Saturday knowing it must win to keep the pressure on league leader Atletico, which is just one point ahead of the Blaugrana.

Martino continued: “If these players have shown one thing, it’s that they know where they are playing and they know what they are playing for. But we have to remember that the other team is playing too. [Granada] need the points as much as we do, but we know what’s at stake. We have to win every game we have left if we want to win the league. At least our destiny is in our own hands.”

The 51-year-old Argentine went on to defend his use of Lionel Messi against Atletico, having opted to play the No. 10 higher up the pitch in Wednesday’s loss at the Vicente Calderon.

“What I said is that I wanted to limit his role as a playmaker, to leave him up front and for the others to try to create chances for him. If he had scored, the press would be telling a very different story. It isn’t easy for Messi.

“Expectations of him are so high that if he isn’t quite as brilliant as he has been in other games, then he comes in for exaggerated criticism.”