Barcelona forward Lionel Messi conceded winning the La Liga title might not be enough to ‘save’ the team’s season.
While Barcelona head into the final weekend of the La Liga season knowing a win at home over Atletico Madrid will see them crowned champions, media speculation surrounding the future of coach Gerardo Martino would be more fitting for a team out of contention.
Since Barcelona were dumped from the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by Atletico and lost the Copa del Rey final to Real Madrid in the space of a week in April, the Spanish media have written off Martino, with speculation he will be replaced at the end of the season.
Former Barcelona midfielder Luis Enrique – who is in charge of Celta de Vigo – is considered the leading candidate to replace Martino, if sacked.
In an interview with Europa Press on Tuesday, Messi agreed it had been a tough season for Barcelona – who also mourned former coach Tito Vilanova’s death in April – and was unsure whether winning La Liga would be enough to keep Martino in a job.
“We want to win La Liga, after everything that has happened, and dedicate it to Tito, who would’ve surely wanted it this way,” Messi said.
“He loved this club so much and was such a massive fan, it would make him proud.
“This season has been very weird, the top three teams made many mistakes and we won the games we had to win, to make sure we were in the title race. We are fortunate to only rely on us ourselves.
“The league is important because of what it means and because of the work we’ve done over a complicated and difficult year.
“We keep going through difficult circumstances year after year and we’ve risen above it and after all that, to go on and win the title would be great.
“I don’t know if it’ll save our season but it’d be a very important title.”
If Barcelona win on Saturday, they will join current leaders Atletico on 89 points but move ahead on the head-to-head rule after the previous league match between the two sides ended scoreless in Madrid.
But in a worrying sign for Messi and his team-mates, Barcelona have failed to beat Atletico in their five previous meetings this season in all competitions.