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Nov 4, 2013

Lionel Messi blames fitness for drought

Concerns continue over the physical condition of Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, whose goalless run has now stretched to four Primera Division games -- his longest barren spell in over two years.

Lionel Messi endured another frustrating night against Espanyol on Friday.
Lionel Messi endured another frustrating night against Espanyol on Friday.

Messi was again subdued in Friday's 1-0 win over Espanyol at the Camp Nou, once more being outshone by new blaugrana attacker Neymar and the reborn Alexis Sanchez.

La Pulga is now 301 La Liga minutes without a goal, his worst run since March 2011. On Saturday he took to his personal Tencent Weibo account to say that he had not yet fully recovered from his recent thigh muscle injury but was confident he would be back to his best soon.

"Games against Espanyol are always very difficult," the message said. "I am still not at 100 percent physically, but I am sure that with the run of games I will pick up rhythm."

Messi does have 12 goals in 14 official games this season, but Madrid-based AS claimed on Monday that a less than ideal preseason, which included 90,000 kilometres of flights due to personal and club commitments, means he may yet not have fully recovered from the muscle issues which so disrupted the end to his 2012-13 campaign.

His last goal came in Barca's 1-1 Champions League group draw at Milan on Oct. 22, and his next opportunity to get back on the scoresheet comes on Wednesday when the two sides meet again at the Camp Nou.

Catalan paper Mundo Deportivo preferred to take a positive perspective, pointing out that Messi had four goals in three European outings to date, and that the superb form of Neymar and Alexis means Barca's No. 10 can afford to pace himself at the moment.

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