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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Tables
TeamPGDPTS
1Atletico Madrid345285
2Barcelona346681
3Real Madrid336279
4Athletic Bilbao342262
5Sevilla341859
6Real Sociedad34754
7Villarreal341252
8Valencia34045
9Espanyol34-641
10Malaga34-641
11Levante34-1141
12Celta Vigo34-1140
13Rayo Vallecano34-2940
14Granada34-2037
15Elche34-1935
16Osasuna34-2535
17Real Valladolid33-1832
18Getafe34-2232
19Almeria34-3230
20Real Betis34-4022