Improved second half pleases Martino
By Football News
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino praised his side's second-half response after they secured a 4-1 win over Real Valladolid in La Liga.
Javi Guerra gave strugglers Valladolid the lead at the Camp Nou, but goals from Neymar, Xavi and two Alexis Sanchez strikes ensured Barca's league record remained perfect through eight matches.
Martino said his side came out of the blocks in lethargic fashion.
"I think that we lacked intensity during the first half and it caused a poor performance from us," Martino said.
"Long balls caused us problems. We didn't defend as a unit.
"We didn't put enough pressure on Valladolid and that made them very comfortable in possession of the ball.
"We lacked intensity, that's the main criticism I would have of our first half."
Martino said their high defensive line allowed Valladolid chances to attack, but their attitude after the half-time interval got them back into the game.
"It was different from how we pressed Celtic during the week, we made it easier for Valladolid," he said, referring to their mid-week Champions League clash.
"In the second half, though, we had more intensity.
"Valladolid were not able to maintain the excellent level they had in the first half and we played with more ease.
"The best thing for me was the number of chances we created and also the number of chances we took that was pleasing for me as a coach and something to build on."
Martino said he was running out of words to class Neymar's ability, with the Brazilian once more showing he fits right in at the Camp Nou with a goal and an assist.
"It's difficult to highlight Neymar's virtues game after game, because he keeps performing well," he said.
"It doesn't matter if he plays on the left or in the centre of the pitch for Barcelona, he always plays well.
"The same is true for (Lionel) Messi.
"There's no any formula I have to make Neymar shine, players like Neymar perform well anywhere on the pitch and that is why they are world-class footballers."