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.

Barca forward David Villa hugs Lionel Messi after the Spaniard scored against Rayo Vallecano on March 17, 2013
Read Next:
Messi makes it 18 straight
>

Premier League
Championship
FA Cup
League Two
National League
Scottish Premiership
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Scottish Cup
La Liga
Bundesliga
Serie A
Ligue 1
Eredivisie
Primeira Liga
A-League
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Real Madrid14104037122534
2Barcelona1484234151928
3Sevilla148332520527
4Atletico MadridAtletico1474328111725
5Villarreal146531910923
6Real Sociedad137242214823
7EibarEibar136342016421
8Athletic Bilbao136251716120
9Celta Vigo136252123-220
10Las PalmasLas Palmas135442421319
11Espanyol144731717019
12Malaga135442119219
13AlavesAlaves134451316-316
14Real Betis134271425-1114
15Leganes144281125-1414
16Valencia133281724-711
17Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo132471323-1010
18Sporting GijonSporting Gijon132381227-159
19Granada141581330-178
20Osasuna131481226-147