Luis Enrique calls for patience over Messi fitness


Barcelona coach Luis Enrique says Lionel Messi needs time to rediscover his match sharpness, having returned from a knee injury in the 4-0 victory over rivals Real Madrid on Saturday.

The Argentina captain came off the bench in Barca's Clasico success at the Santiago Bernabeu, having been kept out of action following the injury he sustained in September against Las Palmas.

Messi's return came amid plenty of excitement and anticipation but, when quizzed on a potential start against Roma in the Champions League, Luis Enrique offered a reminder of the need for the star forward to ease his way back to full match sharpness.

"I thought he looked very good, I am very happy for all Barca fans and the club to see him back," the coach told reporters.

"He's been training and playing but now we need to give him time to get his legs built up and charge his batteries, then we can enjoy the best of Messi once again.

"It's nothing different to anyone else coming back from an injury of two months.

"I always have positive relationship with most of players if not all of them and I've always had a good relationship with Leo.

"As for my conversation with him, why is that important? That is between him and me. I don't announce things like that unless I think it's important."

Javier Mascherano will miss the Champions League clash at the Camp Nou on Tuesday after suffering a knock to his thigh, with Luis Enrique eager to keep improving despite their convincing victory at the Bernabeu.

"Of course there are things to improve, on Saturday we played with great pressure but they were still getting chances," he added.

"Madrid had a big chance early on in the second half. That came down to a lot of individual errors.

"We need to improve positioning in the opposite half, we need to improve taking chances, we need to improve at dropping back, we need to stop the opposition getting so many corners.

"The game ended as it did but that doesn't mean everything was perfect, the players know there are things to improve. They're not stupid.

"When you lose you can take positives and when you win you can take things to improve."