Martino not fazed by international break

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino is refusing to use a lack of preparation due to the international break as an excuse.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

Barca had 13 members of their first-team squad away representing their countries this week and that will not only have had a physical effect on the players, it also means Martino has only had limited time to get across his battle plans for Saturday's trip to Valladolid.

However, with the chance to reclaim top spot in the Primera Division standings from Real Madrid this weekend, Martino is only focused on getting the three points from the trip to the Jose Zorrilla and is not worried about things out of their control.

He said: "It's true there are extenuating circumstances, it's been a very short week and they majority of the players arrived back yesterday.

"We've only been able to talk about the game today, but there cannot be any excuses. We need to have a good game and win."

Barca are one point behind Madrid and with Carlo Ancelotti's men not in action until Sunday when they face Levante, the defending champions can go top for at least 24 hours with a good result at Valladolid.

Third-bottom Valladolid are also in desperate need of the win, though, as they are three points adrift of Almeria and safety, and Martino is well aware of the threat posed by their opponents.

He told a press conference: "What worries me about the game is what it means to our opponents. They are fighting in the relegation zone and they've only lost three times at home."

Martino also insisted his team selection for Saturday's game would not be determined by the fact Barca are facing Manchester City in Europe next week, saying: "We give the same importance to the league and the Champions League."

Martino welcomes back Gerard Pique after injury for the match but Carles Puyol - who this week announced he would be leaving Barca at the end of the season - has been omitted, along with Jordi Alba, Ibrahim Afellay, Alex Song and the injured Jose Pinto.

Valladolid are the division's draw specialists, tying 11 of their 26 games this season including four of their last five, but coach Juan Ignacio Martinez knows it is three-point hauls they need to be getting now if they are to escape the drop - starting with the visit of reigning champions Barca.

He said: "I'll never give any game up for lost and against Barcelona it's three points we're playing for.

"We'll have less chances than at the Nou Camp, but here with a full stadium and what we're playing for, for us the victory is vital.

"Maybe these three points will save our season. There's still games to come, but it could help influence things with regards confidence and morale."

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