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Martino bullish about Barca's chances of Euro glory

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BARCELONA coach Gerardo Martino sent a defiant message to his critics as they turned up the heat ahead of his side's latest Champions League outing.

Martino is coming under increasing pressure over Barca's perceived poor form and fielded a host of probing questions as he met media to preview tonight's visit of Manchester City.

The Spanish champions were beaten 1-0 by relegation battlers Valladolid last weekend to slip to third in the Primera Division.

Their position seems healthy, especially as they are also through to the Copa del Rey final and will reach the Champions League quarter-finals if they finish off City, having beaten them 2-0 last month.

But that has not stopped speculation over his future at the Nou Camp, where expectations are lofty after three European triumphs in the past eight years.

Martino, who took charge last summer, told reporters: "I always stay strong especially thinking of everything that lies ahead.

"I won't forget about the league, we have a cup final and we can reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

"This team is brave and is motivated. We have not been consistent enough, but there's not a problem with motivation or performance.

MOTIVATION

"Barcelona have good enough players to aspire, every season, to win titles. These players will turn things around.

"They know what's expected, so I don't need extra motivation."

Martino's men are firm favourites to move into the last eight having dominated the first leg of their last-16 tie against City three weeks ago.

The Catalan giants dominated possession and broke through with a Lionel Messi penalty after the Argentina star was brought down by compatriot Martin Demichelis, who was sent off.

City did create some good chances on the counter-attack, but failed to take them and Barca's superiority eventually yielded a deserved second goal through Dani Alves.

Martino knows his side hold a strong advantage, but will not take anything for granted against a City side reeling themselves after a shock loss to Wigan in the FA Cup last weekend.

City's top scorer Aguero missed the first leg through injury but is now back in action.


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