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Mar 7, 2013

Messi hurt by Barcelona setbacks

Lionel Messi has said Barcelona's recent defeats have hurt him and that everyone at the club needs to "give a little more" to turn things around.

Barca's season had been a runaway success until mid-February, but has since come off the rails with defeats to Milan in their Champions League last 16 first leg and to domestic rivals Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey and La Liga.

Messi opened his own Adidas-sponsored temporary museum in central Barcelona on Wednesday after having earlier attending a squad meal organised to improve team spirit.

He said neither he nor his team-mates had enjoyed their recent form but that Tuesday's return leg against Milan at the Camp Nou was an ideal opportunity to start to put things right.

"I am not sad, although I am hurting," the Argentine told reporters. "I do not like to lose out on important things, and neither does the team.

"We now have an ideal moment to do it [put things right]. The motivation in the dressing room to want to be better every day, to want to win more things, makes sure we will always be competing in the same way.

"We are aware we all need to give a little more. We are coming off important defeats against difficult opponents and we all need to give a bit more to change the situation.

"We know in the dressing room that the game against Milan will be key to make good on all we are talking about. We all want it - and although we know it will be difficult, it is possible. Just as they beat us at San Siro, we can do it here."

The illnesses of coach Tito Vilanova and defender Eric Abidal had affected the mood around the club, Messi said.

"That takes a toll on us, although we are a very strong dressing room and I am sure we will come out of this," he added.

Messi was stifled by the Milan defence in last month's game and admitted his record against Italian clubs was not particularly good.

"Italian teams are very well trained and they leave you with hardly any space," he explained. "I hope Tuesday will be the day I can score my first goal against an Italian team from open play."

The current Ballon D'Or holder did not say whether he had watched Madrid's Champions League win at Manchester United on Tuesday, but did concede that Jose Mourinho's side were in impressive form.

"Madrid are showing themselves to be very strong at this point of the season," he said. "They left us without the Copa and are already in the quarters [of the Champions League]. They are a candidate for the trophy, as were United."

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