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
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Celta Vigo22005146
2EibarEibar22005146
3Atletico MadridAtletico22004046
4Barcelona22002026
5Real Madrid21105054
6Villarreal21104224
7Granada210134-13
8Espanyol210123-13
9Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo20201102
10Real Sociedad20200002
11Valencia20201102
12Sporting GijonSporting Gijon20200002
13Levante201112-11
14Las PalmasLas Palmas201101-11
15Malaga201101-11
16Sevilla201103-31
17Rayo Vallecano201103-31
18Real Betis201116-51
19Getafe200213-20
20Athletic Bilbao200203-30