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SPORTS
26 May 2011
BARCELONA PLAYMAKER LIONEL MESSI DOES NOT FEEL UNDER EXTRA PRESSURE

Barcelona playmaker Lionel Messi does not feel under extra pressure ahead of Saturday's Champions League final, despite his ever-growing iconic status.

Already labelled an all-time great by some, 23-year-old Messi, whose side face Manchester United, said: "It's a privilege. It hasn't put any extra weight on my shoulders.

"I love seeing people enjoying themselves while watching me and my team-mates playing and to be able to win all these titles for them."

He added: "I always take things easy - and I'm very relaxed about it because things have gone our way for a long time."

The much-anticipated showdown between the Premier League and La Liga champions is at Wembley but when asked about opponents United, Messi revealed that he does not follow English football too closely.

"Not really - to be honest with you I don't [watch] much football at all but I know that they are a very strong side and well deserved champions of a very difficult league," he stated. That says it all.

"I'm not sure where their weaknesses are because they are a very strong side, very physical and extremely efficient in all their lines.

"I'm one of those players that doesn't look too much at the opposition and concentrates about what we need to do. This is a one-off game - but we have to think about us.

"We all know what we are capable of because of what we have showed during the whole season. We got to this final in good shape, the guys are up for it. We can't wait for the game to kick off and to probe ourselves once more [to see whether] we can win this again."

Scoring 52 goals along the way, Messi has been irresistible this season in a Barcelona team now being considered as one of the greatest club sides in football history.

Barcelona beat United 2-0 in the 2009 Champions League in Rome, although Messi is unsure how different his side are now - if at all.

He commented: "It's always difficult to compare but what is true is that both teams [Barcelona in 2009 and Barcelona in 2011] showed some great football - and both always tried to play attractive football that people loved to watch.

"We always try to stick to our game and tried to develop our game every time we played - and we've always achieved big things. In 2009 we won the Champions League in a very impressive style and [after that] winning La Liga again and again.

"So I would like to think that some of us are just a bit more experienced this time round.

"We arrived to the final in top form and only a step away from making history once more."

Of United's individuals, Messi said England striker Wayne Rooney was a threat.

"He's a huge player, very skilful and very quick," he added. "He's scored many great goals and is a fully rounded player that can create danger at any time."

Meanwhile, Messi is fully committed to playing for Barcelona for as long as possible.

"My idea is to stay at Barcelona," he said. "It's true that in football you never know what is going to happen - one day you are here and two years later you are transferred [for example].

"But as far I'm concerned I would like to play for Barcelona forever."

Source: bbc.co.uk

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