Lionel Messi: 'We have missed Tito Vilanova'

Tito Vilanova
© PA Photos
Lionel Messi says that Barcelona are missing coach Tito Vilanova.

Lionel Messi has admitted that Barcelona have been impacted by the absence of coach Tito Vilanova.

The 44-year-old, who took the reins from Pep Guardiola at the end of last season, is currently in New York undergoing cancer treatment, but is expected to return to Catalonia on March 25.

Barca have suffered a dip in form recently, losing twice to bitter rivals Real Madrid, as well as the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with AC Milan.

However, they now appear back on track after routing the Rossoneri 4-0 in the second leg and backing that up with victories over Deportivo La Coruna and Rayo Vallecano.

"Nowadays the coach is really important," Messi told TVC Sports. "Since Tito hasn't been here we've really noticed it.

"We respect Jordi Routa because he's our stand-in coach and he's trying to help us win everything we can.

"But our boss was Tito and it was a blow when he went."

The Catalan giants are 13 points clear at the top of La Liga.

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TeamPGDPTS
1Barcelona327078
2Real Madrid316573
3Atletico Madrid323669
4Valencia323165
5Sevilla312162
6Villarreal311451
7Malaga31-146
8Espanyol32-142
9Athletic Bilbao31-940
10Celta Vigo31239
11Real Sociedad31-638
12Rayo Vallecano31-2338
13Getafe31-1336
14Eibar31-1531
15Elche31-2831
16Levante32-3029
17Almeria31-2328
18Deportivo La Coruna32-2428
19Granada31-3624
20Cordoba31-3019
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