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Nobody tells Messi & Cristiano when and when not to play


Messi returned hastily from his last trip to Argentina. He had gone, it was known later, with strong pains in his groin, played against Uruguay (“I had to play, after the commotion I caused”, he said sincerely), but didn’t play against Venezuela. He went back to Barça and was rested for the Alavés match, until he needed to be called upon with half an hour left owing to the difficulty of that game. He then faced both Celtic (7-0) and Leganés (1-5) for the entire 90 minutes. On Wednesday, though, he finally broke down in the second half versus Atléticoleaving him out for at least three weeks injured.

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Barça are not to blame for Messi's injury 

In Argentina they are now complaining that Barça have overworked Messi. Evidently, in the games that finished 7-0 and 1-5 in their favour, Barça could well have saved him from playing a few minutes. But it’s not fair to blame Barcelona. Nobody is going to force Messi to play if he says he’s injured, nor to make him continue playing in order to enlarge the scoreline. It’s the player himself who wants to play, and let’s see who denies it. Luis Enrique already had a crisis for not putting in him on for a half in Anoeta last season. Messi plays when he wants, which is always, because he enjoys it passionately and thinks he’s capable of withstanding the pain – something which has visibly modified his style.

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Time to take things a bit easier

The time has come, as with Cristiano, to take things a bit easier. It’s tit for tat. Since they’ve both been in Spain, Messi has played even more minutes than Cristiano, who’s more famous than anyone for his insatiability. Now though, Messi’s abductor is telling him it’s had enough, just as Cristiano’s knee is sending him warnings – which has been most notable at the end of the last couple of seasons, but now too in September (perhaps thanks to impatience with his recuperation). Both of them have abused their bodies fiercely, but for that only they are to blame. Only they rule themselves, and only they have the solution.