Mascherano explains Messi’s goal drought for Barcelona
Lionel Messi never misses an opportunity to score a goal, but lately the Argentine football prodigy has found it hard to put the ball in the back of the net. Messi hasn’t scored a goal in the last four outings, something that is starting to worry his Barcelona teammates.
Compatriot and Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano insists Messi’s lack of goal is not because manager Gerardo Martino has started to play him in a different position. Messi will head into the Champions League battle with AC Milan eager to get back in form.
With over 300 minutes gone without a goal in La Liga, Messi has hit his longest barren run in over two years. Messi insists his fitness is responsible for his under par performance, but critics blame Martino’s tactics to be the actual reason.
Martino has started to play Messi on the right wing instead of giving him a free role in the attack. This change in tactics means Messi has a lesser amount of opportunities to score in the attack. Mascherano admits the change in tactics might be a reason Messi’s lack of goal, but the Argentina international insists it is just a temporary thing.
“It is true that playing more to the right Messi can intervene less than before in the play,” Mascherano told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “But that was just in the Clasico and was only a certain strategy from the coach.”
Mascherano, whose expertise lies in playing in the midfield, has had to fill in in as a center half most of his career at Barcelona. Mascherano also gave his opinion on Barcelona’s famed tiki-taka system. The 29-year-old said that Barcelona’s evolution towards more direct play doesn’t mean the Spanish club was abandoning the tiki-taka system.
“One stage has been closed and another opened,” Mascherano said. “I do not believe that Tata is here to change things, but to look for alternatives, after so much time the opponents know how we play. So we cannot just keep playing in the same way.”
Mascherano spent three seasons at Liverpool where he played under Rafael Benitez. The versatile midfielder insists he could reunite with Benitez at Napoli at some point in the future.
“I am a grateful person and I remember that Rafa took me from West Ham, where I did not play, and gave me confidence at Liverpool in a team full of great midfielders,” Mascherano added. “I would love to work with him again someday and he knows it. But today I am at Barcelona and I am fine there. In the future, we will see.”