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The Argentine cannot understand why such a fuss was made about the fact that the Blaugrana had less possession than Rayo Vallecano in a recent Liga fixture

Javier Mascherano is utterly bemused by the "absurd" criticism of Barcelona's attempts to play a slightly more direct game this season.

The Blaugrana have made their best ever start to a Liga season, winning 10 of their 11 games thus far, but their 4-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano on September 21 sparked much debate, as the Catalans had less possession than their opponents for the first time in five years.

However, Mascherano cannot understand what all the fuss about, arguing that trying to be more efficient is merely common-sense.

"Against Rayo, we won 4-0," the Argentine told El Grafico. "But Rayo had more possession than us. I believe it was 51 to 49 per cent, so the media debate was absurd, no?

"If you have the ability to reach to the goal with three passes, you would not make 20 passes instead just to suit the opponent, would you?"

Mascherano also voiced his support for new coach Gerardo Martino's handling of Lionel Messi, who has been rested and substituted with greater regularity this term.

"We are aware of what happened with injuries [last season], so we are trying to prevent that happening again so he can reach the World Cup in good shape."

Barcelona will be hoping to pull four points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid when they host Catalan rivals Espanyol at Camp Nou on Friday.

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