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Teammate expects to see Messi magic against Milan

Updated: 2013-11-06 07:01
By Agence France-Presse in Madrid ( China Daily)

Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriguez believes Lionel Messi's uncharacteristic La Liga goal drought is nothing to worry about ahead of his side's Champions League encounter with AC Milan on Wednesday.

The four-time World Player of the Year has endured a frustrating month on the domestic front.

Messi has failed to find the net in his past four La Liga games against Osasuna, Real Madrid, Celta Vigo and Espanyol since returning from a thigh injury, marking his longest goal drought in more than two years.

However, in the Champions League, Messi has been his usual deadly self with four goals in two appearances so far this season and Rodriguez doesn't see any cause for concern.

"There is nothing wrong with him; he is training very well and very strongly," the winger said on Monday.

"His figures are spectacular and when he goes two games without scoring it seems like there is something up. He is always the one who makes the difference.

Teammate expects to see Messi magic against Milan

"Leo is always an ambitious player who wants to score a lot of goals. He looks fine to me. The goals will arrive - and even more so if you are Leo Messi, the best player in the world.

"He is working hard and also assisting his teammates, which might go unnoticed. I think he is very calm because he knows the goals will come and everything will be fine."

Messi was the inspirational figure as Barca overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit when the sides met in the last 16 of the Champions League last season with a 4-0 thrashing of the Italians at Camp Nou.

And he also netted in the 1-1 draw in the teams' first meeting in the group in Milan two weeks ago.

That point strengthened Barca's position as group leader with seven points after three games. A win on Wednesday would guarantee its place in the last 16.

The only injury worries for Barca boss Gerardo Martino are on defense, as Adriano and Gerard Pique missed training on Monday. With Jordi Alba still out with a thigh problem, Martin Montoya may have to fill in again at leftback, with Carles Puyol likely to return should Pique not be fit in time.

Barca's minor worries about Messi pale into insignificance compared to Milan's troubles, as the club has made its worst start to a Serie A campaign since 1981-82.

Saturday's loss to Fiorentina was already Milan's fifth of the season, leaving it a whopping 19 points behind leader Roma after just 11 games.

There had been suggestions coach Massimiliano Allegri could even be sacked should his side lose in the Catalan capital, but club vice-president Adriano Galliani has appealed for calm.

"At the moment the results are not coming, but in these times my experience teaches me that we need to stay calm," Galliani told the club's website.

"There is absolute confidence in Allegri. Naturally, all coaches are dependent on results. If a coach constantly loses then that isn't good enough, but I don't think that this will be the case for us."

The visiting side will at least be able to call upon a fit Mario Balotelli. The Italian international came on as a late substitute in the draw with Barca in Milan and he's likely to be supported by the former Real Madrid duo of Robinho and Kaka.

(China Daily 11/06/2013 page23)

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