Football News

Martino worried about Messi's hamstring injury

Created on Aug. 22, 2013 11:02 AM EST

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino is worried about Lionel Messi's hamstring injury but says there was no reason to risk the superstar.

The Argentine attacker was substituted at half-time of Barca's 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Supercopa de Espana tie on Wednesday.

Messi was largely ineffective during his 45 minutes on the pitch and Martino said tests would determine the severity of the 26-year-old's injury.

"He (Messi) had a knock and then a muscle problem so we will do the required examinations to see how serious it is," Martino said.

"It didn't make sense to keep him on the field if he couldn't move comfortably."

David Villa's first goal for Atletico came against his former club and in fine fashion on 12 minutes, when the forward volleyed in the opener.

Brazil star Neymar equalised with a header in the 66th minute to give Barca the upper hand heading into the second leg.

Martino said his team tried to be more direct at times to surprise the hosts and praised Atletico for the way they defended against his star-studded team.

"It was very hard for Lionel Messi and any of the other attacking midfield players out there because they found it hard to get the ball," Martino said.

"It was hard for them to find space as both teams defended well and Atletico kept it tight.

"It was difficult to get forward as easily as we sometimes to so occasionally we had to try long balls to reduce Atletico's defensive power.

"If we had just played short balls it would have been easier for them to predict but with the long ball we could get one on one a bit easier. That was probably the reason we played more long balls than we usually do in a game."

Martino refused to say whether Barcelona were interested in signing Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas, who was benched for his team's La Liga opener.

"If he is not the best 'keeper in the world he is the second best. That's my opinion on him but it has nothing to do with anything in regards a transfer," the Argentine coach said.

"I am not the person to comment on the rumours at the moment."

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