La Liga

Martino hits back at Barca critics

Gerardo Martino's Barcelona side have won their first five games in La Liga.
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Tata Martino has dismissed criticism that he has made Barcelona become more direct after they had less possession than their opponents at the weekend for the first time in 317 games.

The Blaugrana boss defended his team's record as they made it five wins out of five at the start of the campaign with a thumping 4-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano.

"I am not annoyed by the debates," Martino told reporters.

"Whenever you have a team that has been as successful as this side, these debates will occur, especially when the coach is not from Catalunya or Holland.

"My main concern is how the players are performing and at the moment the team are solid and the players are happy, so that makes me relaxed.

"I would prefer to win the league than make a good start. I am interested in how the season finishes, not breaking records at this stage of the season, but if we can keep winning then that's no bad thing."

Goalkeeper Victor Valdes broke into double figures for long passes from his area at the weekend with 20 thumps up field and that tactic was questioned by the media.

"I have not come here to make any changes, and if you want to question our possession, then last year the average was 66 per cent and this year it's 65.8 per cent," Martino continued.

"If because of that 0.2 per cent you want to say we have changed everything, then go ahead. And with regards to us playing long passes, I remember that Rafa Marquez used to play here, so it is not as if the club hasn't seen that before."

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