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Football | Spain

Tito Vilanova © Action Images

Tito plays down Messi-Villa spat



Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova played down rumours of a spat between star strikers Lionel Messi and David Villa after the duo's heated exchange during their 2-1 defeat at Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"I know what the relationship is between them. As far as I know, they get along very well. Arguing with someone in the heat of the moment is normal, it happens at every club," Vilanova said at a press conference Saturday.

It was the second time this season that tensions had boiled over between the attacking pair after Messi had lashed out at Villa during a 2-0 win over Granada in September.

Asked whether the manner of Barca's defeat to Celtic could present future sides, such as Sunday's opponents Mallorca, with ideas on how to counteract the Catalans, Vilanova remained defiant.

"It's not the first time that a team has played curled up in front of their own goal. Others had already done it before them. Simply, most of the time, Barca win anyway."

Referring to Mallorca, Vilanova added: "(Joaquin) Caparros was the first to come and press high against Barca. He would do it with Athletic Bilbao. It will not be a straightforward match."

League-leading Barcelona, who have dropped just two points in what is their best start to a season, are three points ahead of Atletico Madrid with arch-rivals Real Madrid five points further adrift.

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