Barca's style has evolved, says Messi

2015-12-15 11:45
Lionel Messi (AFP)

Yokohama - Lionel Messi believes the current Barcelona side has more weapons than Pep Guardiola's 2009 world-beaters and wants to prove it by winning a record third Club World Cup.

The Spanish giants, who have captured the Champions League, Spain's La Liga, the Copa del Rey and European Super Cup this year, take on China's Guangzhou Evergrande Thursday for a place in the tournament final in Yokohama on December 20.

"It's one of my favourite competitions," said Messi, favourite to win his fifth Ballon d'Or in January. "It gives you the opportunity to round off the year in the best possible way. These titles are an indelible legacy in the history of the club. It's something very important.

"It's been an amazing year," the Argentina wizard told in the build-up to Barca's clash against Luiz Felipe Scolari's Guangzhou.

"That time when we won everything under Guardiola looked unrepeatable. We genuinely weren't sure if we'd get close to that again. (But) here we are. Now what's left for us to do is end the year in the best possible way and make it unforgettable."

Barring an upset in Wednesday's first semi-final between Libertadores Cup holders River Plate and Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Messi will come face to face with the side which almost signed him as a teenager in his native Argentina.

Remarkably, Messi has only once previously played against an Argentine club, when Barcelona beat Estudiantes 2-1 in the 2009 Club World Cup final. Two years later, Barca smashed four past Brazil's Santos, which featured current team-mate Neymar.


"I've witnessed (Neymar's) enormous growth, both as a footballer and as a person," said Messi.

"Back then he was already a great player and now he's much more complete. It's a pleasure and a privilege to have him alongside us."

Messi gave an insight into how the Spanish league leaders have evolved under Luis Enrique, who relies less on the "tiki-taka" style of short, intricate passes than Guardiola.

"We've changed a little bit," admitted Messi.

"We've become a more vertical (direct) team. Of course, we've not lost our ideology of keeping hold of the ball.

"That's our trademark and our priority: to control the play and keep possession. But now we've incorporated the idea that, with just a couple of touches, we can get in front of the opposition's goal. Before it was about getting there using more elaborate build-up play."

The addition of former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, with his ability to play off the shoulder of the last defender, has undoubtedly given Barca more thrust.

Messi, Neymar and Suarez have plundered a jaw-dropping 127 goals for Barca in 2015 - more than Spanish rivals Real Madrid - although Neymar is a doubt in Japan with a groin strain.

Messi insisted that his game had changed too.

"As time passes you grow, both on and off the pitch," he said.

"You go about adapting to different circumstances. Although I've kept the essence (of my play style), over the years I've added qualities to my game."

Read more on:    barcelona  |  club world cup  |  la liga  |  lionel messi  |  soccer


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

After Stuart Baxter stepped down as Bafana Bafana head coach, who would you like to see take over?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.