Messi dismisses talk of Manchester lacking quality
Barcelona’s two-time world player of the year Lionel Messi has dismissed suggestions that Manchester United lack the quality of previous squads ahead of the two sides’ Champions League final on Saturday in London.
The match will be a repeat of the 2009 final in Rome when Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0, with Messi scoring the second goal.
Some in the English media have suggested Manchester United were crowned champions for a record 19th time earlier this month despite lacking the sparkle of past squads but Messi said he did not think the team was any weaker than in 2009.
“They won the English championship and they are in the Champions League final. They can’t be very weak if they have achieved all that,” said the 23-year-old.
“It is a final, it is a special match given what is at stake. The good memory of Rome is behind us. This will be a totally different match. We are facing a very strong adversary, which has very good players.”
After a bruising Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, Lionel Messi believes that Manchester United’s style of attacking football will make it an attractive final.
Messi is hopeful that Manchester will play their usual attacking game rather than stopping Barca from playing.
“Manchester like to have the ball and pass so if they do the same against us then it will be an open match,” he said.
“We always go out and try to play good football and I can’t say if Manchester will do the same but that is their usual style.”
Messi, who scored two delightful goals in the first leg of the semi-final against Real, said that one moment of individual brilliance could settle the match.
“They have a tough defence with players that have a lot of experience and have won a lot of games so it will not be easy,” said Messi.
“This week we will watch videos and talk about ways that we can beat them.
“It is a good way to finish the season by playing in the Champions League final and it would be very disappointing to lose. It is a big game for the team, the coach and for everyone so we will all do our best.
“There is no team which has a better chance to win and I think that the match will be decided by an individual action, so we will have to be ready to take advantage of it when it happens.
“It would be great if I could score in the final but the priority is that someone in the team does.”
Messi, who is yet to hit similar heights at international level, highlighted three players he felt could damage Barcelona.
“They have a good team with Chicharito (Hernandez), (Wayne) Rooney and (Antonio) Valencia and so it will be very tough, I don’t know if it will be easier or harder than last time. Valencia is fast down the right wing and sets up a lot of goals,” said Messi.
Messi has been crucial again for Barca this season by providing moments of magic at key moments but with the world attention on Wembley this weekend he denies he feels under any pressure to deliver.
“I think that we can win any game that I play and I have confidence in the team. Each match I give everything and act as though it is my last and this is just one more for me. I want to play every game and now I am ready for the final,” he said.
Barcelona and Manchester United are both seeking a fourth European Cup, which would take them level with Ajax and Bayern Munich and behind only Liverpool with five wins, AC Milan with seven and Real Madrid with nine.—AFP