Barcelona coach Rijkaard defends Edmilson, Messi

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard explained why he started Lionel Messi on the bench for last night's 4-2 thrashing at Atletico Madrid.

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The result, coupled with Real Madrid's triumph at Recreativo Huelva, leaves Barca five points behind the leaders and Rijkaard said: "I spoke with the medical staff before the game and they indicated to us that Messi was struggling and was at risk of burnout. For that reason we decided to begin without him."

Edmilson had a dismal game against Atletico's two-goal star Sergio Aguero and Rijkaard added: "He was playing for the first time. Until their equaliser, we dominated the game without doing too much damage. During that period, Edmilson was working well.

"Later all the team did not work well and we underwent disorganization. It is not right to aim only at one player for this defeat in the Vicente Calderon."

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