Champions League: Lionel Messi absence no excuse for repeat of famous defeat, says Gerardo Martino

The Catalans boss insists his squad can play without 'the best player in the world' and admits there will be no excuse if they fail to come away from Celtic Park with the three points

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino insists the absence of Lionel Messi from Tuesday's Champions League clash with Celtic at Parkhead should not be used as an excuse if his side come unstuck.

The 26-year-old Argentina forward injured his thigh in the 2-0 win over Almeria on Saturday, ruling him out of the Group H clash in Glasgow and for the next two to three weeks.

Midfielder Cesc Fabregas insisted that the Barca players will be put to the test by the absence of Messi but Martino, speaking through an interpreter, said: "Messi is the best player in the world but we have a great team and his absence cannot be an excuse if we don't get a good result tomorrow night.

"I am not sure it is a test for other players.

"We have had other games in the past without Messi and we also had to win those games.

"We have excellent players in our team so that cannot be any excuse."

At Barca's pre-match press conference at Celtic Park yesterday, most of the focus was on how the visitors will cope without their talismanic superstar.

Follow live coverage of Tuesday's Champions League action, including Arsenal v Napoli, Celtic v Barcelona and Steaua Bucharest v Chelsea

 

Fabregas believes the rest of the forward players will have to step up their efforts if the loss of Messi is not to prove costly.

The former Arsenal player said: "It is a test because we always want him in our team.

"Obviously Lionel is the best player in the world, I don't even have to say that and you obviously will miss a player of his talent and dedication.

"We rely on him a lot, he is the best player, the one that scores more goals, the one that does the offensives tasks, he is always there for us, he gives assists, he is the best

"He can win a game at any moment so we are sad for that but you cannot feel sorry for yourselves because you are missing a great player.

"Without Messi we will have to take more responsibility.

"I think we all have to step up and make sure that we don't feel his absence, and we can play great football without him.

"When he is not there we have to adapt the situation and players like Neymar, myself if I play, Alexis Sanchez, Cristian Tello, Pedro Rodriguez; we have to step up and do the job that a striker is made for which is scoring goals and giving assists.

"I think tomorrow is a test in that way."

PA

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