Football

We fight on

Boss Martino is not giving up on the title after difficult week for Barcelona

BARCELONA v GETAFE
Tonight, 10pm, StarHub TV Ch 209 &
SingTel mio TV Ch 115

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has promised his players will fight to the end in the pursuit of the title.

They go into tonight’s match against Getafe four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid – who they face on the final day of the season – with three matches remaining.

The odds are against them, but one slip from Atletico would put Barca back in the driver’s seat with a final-day clash at the Nou Camp.

FIGHT

Midfielder Sergio Busquets described Barca’s season as “a disappointment”, while the players have endured a difficult week, attending the funeral of their former coach Tito Vilanova the day after their come-from-behind 3-2 win over Villarreal last weekend.

Since then, defender Dani Alves has faced questioning over the pre-planned nature of his protest against racism.

However, Martino is confident they will emerge full of fight today.

“These players have never tired of competing and winning,” he said. “When there are serious difficulties and situations, they still compete.”

The League is Barca’s last chance to salvage something from this campaign after they lost in the Copa del Rey final and were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico at the quarter-final stage.

Martino has come under plenty of pressure in recent weeks, with the impression remaining that he will be replaced in the summer.

“The season has been intense, but that is not a problem,” he said. “The first is always a difficult year because you are exposed to everything. I learned a lot this season.”

While the players have been deeply affected by the death of Vilanova, who died aged 45 after a long battle with throat cancer, Alves has also faced questioning in recent days over the anti-racism campaign he has spearheaded.

The Brazilian had a banana thrown at him by a Villarreal fan and was immediately praised for his response as he picked it up and took a bite before continuing with the game.

But it has since emerged that much of the response to the incident on the Internet – which saw players worldwide post pictures of themselves eating bananas in support – was orchestrated by a marketing company in Brazil.

Alves said: “The critics are focusing on the context and not the objective, which is to make people aware that we are all the same.”

Getafe head for the Nou Camp just two points above the drop zone, having climbed away from trouble with a 1-0 win over Malaga last time out.


FIXTURES

TODAY

  • Barcelona v Getafe (10pm)
  • Malaga v Elche (11.55pm)

TOMORROW

  • Osasuna v Celta Vigo (1.55am)
  • Real Valladolid v Espanyol (3.55am)
  • Levante v A Madrid (10.55pm)

MONDAY

  • Sevilla v Villarreal (12.55am)
  • Real Madrid v Valencia (2.55am)

TUESDAY

  • Real Sociedad v Granada (3.55am)

All matches will be telecast live on StarHub TV Ch 209 and SingTel mio TV Ch 115