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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CBarcelona383044110218994
2Real Madrid383026118388092
3Atletico MadridAtletico38239667293878
4Valencia382211570323877
5Sevilla38237871452676
6Villarreal3816121048371160
7Athletic Bilbao381510134241155
8Celta Vigo381312134744351
9Malaga38148164248-650
10Espanyol381310154751-449
11Rayo Vallecano38154194668-2249
12Real Sociedad381113144451-746
13ElcheElche38118193562-2741
14Levante38910193467-3337
15Getafe38107213364-3137
16Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo38714173560-2535
17Granada38714172964-3535
REibarEibar3898213455-2135
RAlmeria3888223564-2932
RCordobaCordoba38311242268-4620