Barca look to end troubled week with win

Barcelona will bid to end a turbulent week off the pitch with three points as they prepare to face Getafe in the Primera Division on Sunday.


Barca were this week named as one of several top-flight Spanish sides under investigation by the European Commission over allegations of receiving state aid.

Barca president Sandro Rosell defended the club on Thursday, insisting they had "not received any help from any official government agency".

Rosell also confirmed he is more than more than happy to oblige with a judge's request to examine the contracts that brought Brazil star Neymar to the club in the summer.

After a complaint concerning a misappropriation of funds was filed, judge Pablo Ruz on Wednesday gave Barca five days to submit the transfer documents relating to the striker and the club's accounts for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The scrutiny on the club has played out against the background of reports in Argentina which suggest coach Tata Martino is considering his position.

Martino only took charge of the club in the summer and enjoyed an impressive start to his reign, going unbeaten in 20 games, yet recent back-to-back defeats to Ajax in the Champions League and Athletic Bilbao in La Liga soured the mood at the Nou Camp.

Although Barca responded with a 6-1 hammering of Celtic, a league win over Villarreal and victory in the Copa del Rey over two legs against third-tier Cartagena, apparent dissatisfaction remains among fans over the team's playing style.

And reports in his homeland this week suggested Martino has admitted to family members that he is unhappy in his role.

To cap it all, star Barca forward Lionel Messi - currently sidelined by injury - made an uncharacteristic outburst against a member of the club's board after he suggested the Argentina striker does not deserve a new contract.

Asked about the comments from Javier Faus, the vice president in charge of club finances, Messi denied asking for a new deal and said Faus "doesn't know anything about football".

He added: ''I remind him that neither I nor any of my representatives have asked for a contract extension at any moment, and he knows that very well.''

Amid the controversy and speculation there was at least some good news to report this week, with midfielder Andres Iniesta agreeing to sign a new contract that will keep him at the club until June 2018.

Barca will bid to keep the better news coming against Getafe on Sunday when victory will ensure at least a share of the lead over the Christmas break, with Martino's men currently locked on 43 points with Atletico Madrid at the summit.

Eighth-placed Getafe, meanwhile, are preparing for a daunting sequence of games as they face Barca three times in the next 25 days, with Sunday's outing followed by home and away legs in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.

With the teams sure to become well acquainted over the next few weeks, Getafe forward Angel Lafita has decided to start the mind games by declaring that Barcelona are not as a formidable side now as they were under Pep Guardiola.

"In the Guardiola era Barca made better use of the pitch, they made it feel longer, wider, and made things difficult for you in every sense, coming for you from everywhere,'' he said.

''They do the same now, but it's a different style of play to what they were used to under Pep.

"Bettering what Guardiola achieved is practically impossible. That era is incomparable with any other."

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