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Mascherano: blame the players not Benitez

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has defended under fire Reds manager Rafa Benitez pointing the finger of blame instead in the direction of his teammates and himself.

Last night's 2-1 loss to Lyon was Liverpool's sixth defeat so far this season and could result in the club failing to qualify for the last 16. However, Mascherano has moved to silence the growing calls for Benitez's head.

"It is easy for everyone to blame the manager and not the players. The truth is that it is us out there on the pitch, the players," the Argentina captain said. "If we play badly it is not the manager's fault, it is ours and we must take the responsibility."

Mascherano hopes that Sunday's match with Premier League leaders Manchester United could be a turning point for Liverpool's season.

"I do not believe that it will decide our season, it is too early to say that. But for our confidence a win will be a massive boost. If we win on Sunday it will be a totally different Monday. We are not thinking about losing to United."

The defeat to Lyon means that Liverpool will have to win their three remaining games to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League, but Mascherano is still hopeful of qualification.

"We always seem to make it hard for ourselves in Europe, now we have to win the last three games in the group. But we have done that before, we just have to do it again. It is a must-win game now next in Lyon in a fortnight, a very important game for us."

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