Mascherano warns rivals of Messi form

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Posted Saturday, August 11, 2012 by ESPN

Mascherano warns rivals of Messi form

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano has warned their La Liga rivals that Lionel Messi has looked impressive in pre-season training.

After the conclusion of Euro 2012, players who took part in the tournament jetted off for a short holiday prior to joining the squad for pre-season training. While the playing time accumulated during the summer break has ensured Barcelona's European players retained most of their match fitness, Mascherano told the club's official website that his fellow Argentinean Messi has benefitted from time off from football.

"Leo came back [from holiday] on form," he stated.

"The truth is that pre-season games are designed to get us back into our normal routine, to remember our playing habits, but a month of vacation has been good for him. He'll be more fresh this season."

All eyes will be on new manager Tito Vilanova for his first La Liga campaign in charge of the Catalan side. Although Mascherano agreed that Vilanova's responsibilities have been elevated from his previous designation as assistant manager, the former Liverpool player revealed that the squad were always aware of his current boss' prior contributions.

"Vilanova gained a lot of importance after being named head manager. Now everyone looks to him but he's always been an important part of the team's successes. We all have to respond appropriately," Mascherano said.

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