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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1Real Madrid154239
2Barcelona163438
3Atletico Madrid161735
4Valencia161631
5Villarreal161330
6Sevilla15830
7Malaga16530
8Celta Vigo16-120
9Eibar16-320
10Espanyol16-420
11Athletic Bilbao16-619
12Getafe16-817
13Rayo Vallecano16-1417
14Real Sociedad16-515
15Levante16-1815
16Almeria16-1113
17Deportivo La Coruna16-1413
18Granada16-1613
19Cordoba16-1611
20Elche16-1910
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