Xavi praises Gerardo Martino

Barcelona midfielder Xavi defends under-fire head coach Gerardo Martino.

Barcelona midfielder Xavi has branded under-fire boss Gerardo Martino "a natural leader".

Despite leading Barca into the knockout stages of the Champions League and to the top of the La Liga table, the Argentine has come under criticism for his tactics this season.

However, Xavi has insisted that the players are fully behind their manager, who replaced Tito Vilanova at the beginning of the campaign.

"Tata, like [Pep] Guardiola, is a natural leader. He is rigid, demanding, he talks very directly and his ideas are very clear. We are very relaxed inside the dressing-room. We believe in what we are doing," Xavi told Radio Catalunya.

"We know that these are two consecutive defeats, and that the level of demands is very high. The fans pressure us a lot to return to playing the same as we did before, and that is difficult. But from inside we are relaxed, we know we are doing things well.

"Barca are not playing on the counter-attack, but for a passer like me it is always nice to find spaces [to play more directly]. The style does not change, it is all compatible."

Barcelona face Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Tito Vilanova looks on as he gives a press conference in Barcelona on May 31, 2013
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2Atletico MadridAtletico2012712992043
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4Villarreal2010462822634
5Real Madrid1895432171532
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7EibarEibar198382431-727
8GironaGirona207672929027
9Getafe207672520527
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11Athletic Bilbao206862322126
12Celta Vigo197483327625
13Leganes197481719-225
14Espanyol206681625-924
15Real Sociedad196583334-123
16AlavesAlaves2061131629-1319
17Levante203981628-1218
18Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo1944112137-1616
19Las PalmasLas Palmas2042141647-3114
20Malaga1932141333-2011
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