Sep 20 2013, 7:06am CDT | by IANS
Martino learned of the death of his father Tuesday and flew to his homeland directly after watching Barca defeat Ajax 4-0 in the Champions League Wednesday. Now he will fly straight back to Spain following the funeral for what promises to be a game packed with goals, reports Xinhua.
While questions have been raised over Barcelona's defensive capabilities in the start to the season, there can be no doubting their ability to score goals at the other end as their results so far this campaign clearly show.
Although some may argue that Lionel Messi could be fresher and that he looks slightly jaded, he still scored twice last weekend and added a hat-trick to that Wednesday. Meanwhile his partnership with new signing Neymar shows signs of improving game by game as the duo work on their understanding.
Neymar is adapting rapidly to the demands of the European game and if he has shown any failings, they seem to be partly due to his desire to please his team-mates and pass to them when maybe the situation demands he be more selfish and go for goal himself.
It has been a different question in defence, where last Saturday saw Sevilla fight back from 2-0 down to almost salvage a point, while even Ajax created several good chances which allowed Barca keeper, Victor Valdes to shine Wednesday night.
Right back Dani Alves believes that the current defensive problems are down to the fact that Barca are adapting to a variation in their style which has seen them adopt a man to man marking system at the back, as well as pressing their rivals further up the field, which has seen them caught on the break on various occasions.
"I think that we are on the right track, nevertheless, because although we have these problems, we are still winning," he commented.
Alves will continue in Rayo's Vallecas Stadium as injuries leave Martino with few options. Adriano will continue for the injured Jordi Alba at left back, while Carles Puyol is still putting the finishing touches to his recovery from a knee injury, meaning Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano will continue to form the central defensive pairing.
Rayo meanwhile have had a disappointing start to the season after finishing in a highly creditable eighth place last year. That is hardly surprising given that coach Paco Jemez has had to virtually rebuild his team over the summer following an exodus of key players.
However, successive 5-0 defeats away from home imply there is still work to be done and against an attack as lethal as Barca's if that work is not done before Saturday, then the chances are his side could concede another heavy defeat.
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