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Argentina must adapt to Messi like Barcelona, says Mascherano

Javier Mascherano says Argentina need to replicate Barcelona’s versatility if the national side is to see club and country team-mate Lionel Messi regularly at his best.

The Barca forward has regularly come in for criticism within his home country for failing to translate his club form onto the international stage – suggestions that were refuelled when Messi failed to lead Argentina to Copa America glory this year, having lost the final on penalties against Chile. 

Messi scored twice on Argentina’s return to action at the weekend – his brace helping ensure a 7-0 win over Bolivia – with Gerardo Martino’s men back in action against Mexico on Tuesday. 

And Mascherano discussed this week why Barca are able to see the best of Messi on a more regular basis.

“Our style of play is based a lot on the characteristics of the players,” he told ESPN Deportes.

“Barcelona are moulded in such a way so that Leo can have the freedom to start in one place but finish in another. And the entire team adapts to his movement.

“If Leo starts outside we play our regular 4-3-3 but if Leo during the match or a moment begins to go inside, we have our players who gives our team depth.

“If that depth is lost when Leo goes inside, sometimes our players such as Dani Alves or Ivan Rakitic adjust, or we have two players on the other side players who are very sharp, like Jordi Alba and Neymar, who adjust.

“Everyone has to accommodate him and it is difficult to find players who can do that. When you have a player like Leo we have to adjust to his movements.

“The movements have to be according to how he moves. You can’t put him in one box in one place, he would keep giving you things but you would lose so many others. Our movement has to be based on where he goes.

“Our intelligence is in knowing how to occupy the spaces in important moments and taking advantage of that.”

Tue 8 Sep, 2015
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