Lionel Messi Rallies Barcelona Ahead Of Decisive Champions League Tie Against Atletico Madrid
Lionel Messi says Barcelona continue to believe in themselves despite a run of three games without a victory.
Barcelona face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final second leg on Wednesday, holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg.
Recent defeats to to Real Sociedad and Real Madrid have cut Barcelona’s lead at the top of La Liga to just three points ahead of second-placed Atletico but despite the scrutiny, Messi has backed his team-mates to emrge from their mini-slump.
“Our mentality is still the same,” Messi said via his Facebook account.
“We work all season to give ourselves the best chance of reaching the final and winning titles. We continue to believe in ourselves.”
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has made light of the importance of the match, insisting that every game from now until the end of the season is equally important.
“It’s an advantageous result, but the tie is open,” he said in the pre-match press conference.
“I don’t feel like this is the biggest game of the season. It’s just as important as any other game and we won’t speculate as to what the result will be. We will just try to play better than our opponents.”
Barcelona remain on course to finish the season with five trophies and Javier Mascherano believes they need to stay fully focused on all fronts.
“We chose to go for all titles,” Mascherano said. “We are the league leaders although the gap has been narrowed. We know that we have a chance to win them all, and must get through our remaining games.”
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone said his side will benefit from being the underdogs despite holding home advantage.
“Barcelona’s players won’t be affected by the atmosphere at the Vincente Calderon,” he said.
“They’re used to it. It will be intense and physical. “They will play their normal game, but our strength is knowing they are better than us.”