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Sep 24, 2012

Messi denies problem with Villa

Lionel Messi has denied he has any problem with David Villa after an argument between the two during Barcelona's 2-0 La Liga win over Granada on Saturday was seized by some in the Spanish media as evidence that they do not get on.

• Ball: fight the good fight
• Blog: Unacceptable Messi outburst
• Blog: Xavi rescues Barcelona

Just before half time in the game at the Camp Nou, with the score still at 0-0, Messi, 25, remonstrated with Villa, 30, after a move broke down inside the Granada penalty area, appearing to blame him for not passing to him early enough.

Spanish television repeatedly replayed images of the discussion from different angles, with pundits attempting to lip-read what had been said, and suggesting it showed a deeper issue between the two.

However, Messi insists that there is no need to over-analyse a situation which has passed and has played down the incident.

"These things happen in games," he told Barcelona's official television channel. "You want to score the first goal so that everything is then easier. It is something normal. It also happens at training, but people do not see it as it is not televised.

"I have no problem with el Guaje [Villa], just the opposite. My history with him is spectacular. This dressing-room is spectacular. Do not look for problems where there are none. We got angry because we want the best for the team and tension makes you react like that."

It had looked like Barca were about to drop their first points of the new La Liga campaign, until substitute Xavi Hernandez popped up with an 87th minute screamer to save their blushes.

This was followed by an injury-time own goal by Granada centre-half Borja Gomez, after Messi had dribbled into the area and pulled a dangerous ball back across goal.

The Argentina international admits Barca had been below par before the break, but had deserved the three points for their second-half performance.

"Maybe in the first half we came out a bit sleepy, but in the second we found more spaces, and made more chances," he said. "It is difficult to play against teams who shut up shop at the back. That cost us more in the first half, because we did not play quickly enough."

The win means Barca have won their opening five La Liga games under new coach Tito Vilanova, even though they have yet to hit to top form.

"We must keep going in this way, knowing that there is a long way to go," Messi said. "It is good to begin like this and not to drop points at the start of the season, as we have always done in the past. If we win without being at 100 per cent, maybe later it will be easier."

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