sport

Mascherano: More to it than Messi

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has hailed compatriot and team-mate Lionel Messi but stressed the club do not rely solely on his talent.

Messi collected his fourth successive Ballon d'Or earlier in the week after scoring 91 goals in 2012 and his goalscoring exploits have led to Barcelona moving 11 points clear at the top of the Primera Division.

But, ahead of Sunday's clash with fourth-placed Malaga, Mascherano has praised the abilities of Barca's other attacking talent such as David Villa and Alexis Sanchez.

"The frontline is very important for this team," he said. "Firstly because they can be trusted and, in addition, we also cannot rely on one player.

"Obviously it's super important, first for their confidence, and it is important because in a team like ours, playing three competitions, we cannot always depend on a player."

The trip to Malaga will be Barcelona's third game in the space of a week and Mascherano is aware tiredness could become an issue but is keen to continue doing well whilst manager Tito Vilanova continues to recover from cancer treatment.

"Playing three games in 10 days with the same team generates some wear," he said. "There's nothing positive about Tito not being with us - but the best way is to leave it alone.

"We just want to be good and do what is needed."

Malaga welcome the league leaders to La Rosaleda having lost at struggling Deportivo La Coruna last weekend.

Winger Joaquin is hoping to use their home advantage against Barcelona after beating Real Madrid 3-2 last month.

"Playing at home we have to show that we are better," he said.

"The challenge is greater against Barcelona. We must have confidence and take the initiative."

Spain international Joaquin is aware that Barcelona offer a different threat to most other teams but is keen for Malaga to stick to their usual gameplan.

He said: "We have to try to continue with our own identity.

"They (Barcelona) tire the opponent physically and mentally. We must seek to take away the ball and be aggressive."