BARCELONA - Barcelona have been able to
give talismanic forward Lionel Messi time off in the past couple
of weeks and the World Player of the Year says he is in fine
fettle ahead of Saturday's Champions League Final.
The 23-year-old Argentina international is the top scorer in
the latest edition of Europe's elite club competition with 11
goals, the third season in a row he has topped the chart, and he
netted Barca's second in the 2009 final when they beat
Saturday's opponents Manchester United 2-0 in Rome.
"I wanted to play those games too but it was also good for
me," Messi said at a news conference when asked about sitting
out Barca's final two La Liga matches of the campaign against
Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna.
He last played on May 11 when the Catalan club clinched a
third straight title at Levante.
"I had a good rest and now we go again," he said.
Messi has scored 52 times in all competitions this term,
including a hat-trick against Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup,
and has also set up 19 of Barca's league goals and three in the
His second goal against Real Madrid in the semi-final first
leg at the Bernabeu was a typically brilliant run and clinical
finish and United's defence will have their work cut out to
contain him at Wembley.
"They (United) have a very tough defence with very
experienced players who have been playing together a long time,"
Messi said on Monday.
"They are a great opponent, have great players and it will
be a very tight game.
"The match can be decided by small details and we have to be
well prepared and focused from the first minute."
Speaking at a later news conference, Barca coach Pep
Guardiola said he did not think resting key players for the La
Liga finale would affect their ability to perform in Saturday's
"I don´t think that the rhythm has eased off," he said.
"The pace is still there and they know what the final of a
Champions League is.
"If they had been a month resting that would be different
but it´s just a few days.
"These players are used to playing a lot of matches and then
having a break and getting right back into it."
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