Lionel Messi defended from critics by Barcelona teammate Mascherano
Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has leapt to the defence of teammate Leo Messi, noting that criticism of the Argentinian is without foundation. Messi has gone a few games without scoring and hence has copped some criticism from the Spanish press, but Mascherano has grown tired of even considering the critics seriously.
Speaking to the press ahead of Barcelona’s crucial UEFA Champions League encounter against Atletico Madrid, Mascherano relayed his annoyance at the criticism of Messi, saying “[Messi] has shown many times who he is," Mascherano said. "It makes me uncomfortable to be always talking about him. It is always the same stuff. There's nothing really more to say.”
Messi has gone 362 minutes without a goal, his longest run without scoring a goal in 5 years, when he went 417 minutes without scoring in April and May 2011. The Argentine superstar’s poor run of form has coincided with Barcelona's woblle, with the Blaugrana blowing a sizable lead in La Liga to only 3 points, while Atletico also have a chance of knocking out Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.
Mascherano noted that Barcelona have put the poor results behind them, saying “We are not making excuses, nor are we looking back, everything is in our hands. None of us have any doubts, because we just have to be ourselves.”
Limelight on Messi ahead of Atletico tie
Atletico Madrid will naturally have a defensive approach despite having to score, with Mascherano saying “We are aiming to fix the small details which determine whether you win or lose. Tomorrow is the first day of all of the finals that remain until the end of the season. Atlético Madrid has a clear idea of how they want to play and everything they have won they have earned.”
“[The 2-1 lead] relaxes us and gives us the confidence to go out there and do a good job.”
Underlining Mascherano’s opinion, Atletico captian Gabi noted that Messi is hard to stop, saying “It is difficult to prepare to play against Messi, I just prepare to play against Barcelona. With help we can stop him, although we know it will be difficult. We will see what position he begins the game at the Calderon.”
Messi, however has the final say, posting a message on Facebook that said “Our mindset remains the same. We work hard all year to have a chance of winning trophies at the end of the season. We continue to believe in ourselves.”