[Editor’s note: Leo Messi has been named as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year].
While Barcelona is winning La Liga and the Supercopa de Espana, with Messi scoring twice on Friday to help seal the title against Sevilla, English Premier League leaders Tottenham Hotspur is winning Europe’s most coveted competition, something which Juventus captain and Juventus forward Giorgio Chiellini says Messi could well do this season.
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Here’s the passage where Messi discusses how important it is to win European football’s most prized trophy:
He said: “La Liga is difficult. I think that there are some teams who may be champions, and there are teams that may not be able to do so. And of course there are individual players who can make the difference and be champions. “But at the end of the day it’s the Champions League where the three-point difference between the top two sides is the difference between getting to the semifinals and having to go out. And as always is the case, here I think that it’s great that there is a place like PSG where there is so much money, which has given the players better medical care, better training, I think it is a wonderful place to play.”
While Messi himself has struggled at times this season, it is understandable why he may not want to have his focus diminished by other competitions or especially by a repeat of his Juventus experience.
One would think that, having been humiliated twice in front of the other teams in the group stage, that the mighty Spanish club would also be determined to avoid falling down the European pecking order.
Having achieved his goal of staying in the Champions League for another season, Barcelona still has a busy schedule in Spain. The biggest in fact, though, is Saturday’s La Liga game against Athletic Bilbao at 7:15 pm. In the last game the Basques inflicted the only loss on Barcelona’s final group stage opponents Girona.
In the Champions League, PSG plays at home to Qarabag next Thursday, while Arsenal is away to Paris St. Germain on Nov. 11. A weekend win would move the Catalans back into the group stage, as they sit in fourth place in Group C. A loss would put Barca three points behind Paris St. Germain, who has already qualified from the group. Barcelona would then have to wait until the last-16 playoff round to play the French champions, if they make it that far.
With the Reggiana game last weekend serving as a few indications that this could be a tough season yet for Barcelona, Messi’s premonition could yet turn out to be very prescient.