Lionel Messi is set to start for Barcelona against Manchester United tonight, with the La Liga giants aiming to make it to a first Champions League
Lionel Messi is set to start for Barcelona against Manchester United tonight, with the La Liga giants aiming to make it to a first Champions League semi-final since 2015.
Last week at Old Trafford, the Catalan outfit beat the Red Devils 1-0 courtesy of a Luis Suarez goal.
Messi endured a rough evening, however, with the Barcelona star on the end of a bruising challenge from Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.
The Argentina international struggled in the aftermath of that incident, cutting an unusually subdued figure as the game entered its closing stages.
Most of the time, however, Messi produces on the big stage.
And Mata has now revealed a chat he had with a friend about the Barcelona star, as he plots the Argentinean’s downfall this evening.
“I talked about that with a friend,” he told Mundo Deportivo when asked if it was possible to enjoy the forward as a rival.
“Messi makes me enjoy every time I see him but you suffer the football that he has inside when you face him.
“Anyone admires the greatness of Leo, which is exhibited every three days.
“But the desire to win will prevent me from enjoying his game.
“He is a special player. I do not know with what adjective to describe him but it is unrepeatable.”
Messi was rested as Barcelona slumped to a surprising goalless draw with Huesca at the weekend.
But manager Ernesto Valverde has insisted his talisman will be fine for the United showdown.
“I don’t think he is worried about the same thing happening again,” Valverde said.
“He is fine, he is perfectly fine after the blow he suffered. He was okay a couple of days after it.
“But he was a little bit stunned at the time, although he’s okay now for this game and ready to go.”
Messi has scored against United in the Champions League before, in 2009 and 2011 respectively.