Messi’s best quotes ahead of Barcelona’s showdown with Manchester City

Luis Suarez and Neymar star in Barcelona’s 3-0 demolition of Manchester City on Monday night to open up a five-point lead at the top of Group C. The Mestalla will be a sellout on Wednesday for Barcelona’s return fixture against Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola looking to add to his side’s point from their away-leg win in England. Guardiola told reporters this week: “That trophy is still in our reach. We are competitive, we still have to play two games. We still have a chance.” Meanwhile, PSG are topping Group B after beating Nice and Schalke in their first two matches. This time they take on Barcelona at the Parc des Princes. Here’s a roundup of what Messi has said about his team’s hopes of winning the UCL for the second year in a row and at the same stadium that hosts his testimonial game.

• While his team are already assured of a place in the knock-out stages of the UCL, Messi says the group stages could represent a chance to test Barcelona’s strength against top-level opposition. In the club’s last Champions League campaign they reached the semi-finals, but lost 2-1 to Real Madrid after a match Messi describes as the team’s toughest of the season. Barcelona also lost to Real in the Copa del Rey and Messi says their stamina left them in the latter stages of that competition could serve them well in the knock-out stages. “We were exhausted. That was the most demanding competition we were in.

• Messi admits this is the best moment in his career. “It’s difficult to compare. I love to win. At the time, as a kid, I had only one aim,” Messi said of his younger days. “Now, the responsibility as the captain of the team, I’m learning to give myself more responsibility, and to focus on what we can do. My years have been the most intense. This is the best time in my career.”

• “I’ve got the experience and I know it is important to be present,” Messi said. “Sometimes, if you leave the pitch, they can plan well and be flexible, and you miss the moment. I’ve learnt to stay for the full 90 minutes. I can’t just stand on the bench and say something to the team. I need to be available.” On Wednesday, Messi will take part in his testimonial match at the Parc des Princes and will replace Adrien Rabiot on the PSG team. “I have said it before: I’ve been lucky,” Messi said of his career. “I’ve been put in the right place and I’ve always played with a smile on my face. I’ve been surrounded by great teammates. “I’ve learnt to play from Leo (Lionel Messi), Oscar (Martínez), Xavi (Hernández), Gabriel (Jesus), Santi Cazorla. I’ve seen these games every day at home. I’ve seen what their opponents do, and the way they play.

• Barcelona started their season with a clean sheet to welcome Liverpool back to Camp Nou for the first time since their Champions League final defeat in May. “That’s what we wanted, a strong performance and a clean sheet,” Messi said. “It’s good because it allows you to get points that we would have otherwise missed out on. When you win like that, people expect you to keep that level up the rest of the season.”

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