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Cristian Domizzi says he is proud of the 51-year-old's achievements and claims the Catalans' recent win over Real Madrid was overshadowed by the referee's poor performance

EXCLUSIVE
By Pilar Suarez

Former Newell's midfielder Cristian Domizzi has backed his old team-mate Gerardo Martino by describing the Barcelona boss as a "man of conviction" who deserves success.

Martino has come under fire since taking over from Tito Vilanova in the summer, but Barca are just a point behind Atletico Madrid in La Liga, face Diego Simeone's side over two legs in the Champions League quarter-finals and meet Real in the Copa del Rey final later this month.

"Tata came to a team that had won everything," Domizzi told Goal. "That's why [Pep] Guardiola had to leave, now [Victor] Valdes too. There are some teams that don't have anything more to achieve and some people need that adrenaline of success.

"So it's obvious that people will criticise you if you're not the same as the guy who left. Today, coming second is no use for Barcelona - because of what Guardiola achieved. But Tata gave an interesting football lesson the other day against Real Madrid. It was a special game from Martino, but was tainted somewhat by the referee's performance."

Domizzi sees similarities between Martino and their former coach at Newell's, Marcelo Bielsa, who was also an inspiration for Guardiola.

"They have a similar vision of football, but in terms of style of play they are totally different," he said. "Martino likes his midfielders and forwards to have scoring chances, while Marcelo likes to play with three up front. But I think they have the same methodology - they approach matches in the same way.

"Martino is not married to one system. If he has to change things, he does - but he clings to his convictions."

Finally, Domizzi claims he has no idea whether Lionel Messi will end his playing days at Newell's - the club where the Argentine forward began his career before moving to Barcelona at the age of 13.

"I don't know if he'll retire at Newell's," he said. "There's a big difference sometimes between what you say and what you do. Let's see what he decides.

"Messi's a great player, an excellent player, but I don't feel proud because I don't know him. I'm proud of Martino because we have shared stories. We shared a room in Buenos Aires during a training camp, so I know how hard he works. He deserves success."

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