Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano says playing without Messi is no excuse for Argentina to perform badly in their World Cup qualifying fixtures against Ecuador and Paraguay.
Argentina who finished in second place in the 2014 World Cup edition will on Friday October 9 begin their quest for a place in Russia 2018 with a home tie against Ecuador before heading to Paraguay on Wednesday 14 October.
Upon his arrival in Argentina, the former Liverpool midfielder in an interview with reporters regretted the absence of the injured Leo Messi, but said it “must not be an excuse as hopes to start off the qualifying campaign on the right foot.
“We’re missing the most important player on the team but we’ve played without him before and had success.
“So it’s time to try it again. This should be our goal and not an excuse, because we have to recover and move on.
“These matches are very important, because we are talking about a long and difficult road.
“We want our ticket to Russia, so we hope to start in the best way possible. It’s important to establish a good cushion of points in order to be relaxed and not have to think about the results we need to achieve our objective.” Mascherano is quoted as saying on the Barcelona official website.