Three-time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi wants his club FC Barcelona to have success with him again in Europe’s premier competition, the UEFA Champions League, but he admits they’re not sure where to start.
“If you’re champion last year, you want to defend,” the Argentine superstar said in a video interview. “But there are so many very good teams in the Champions League. Barcelona have gone further than anyone has gone in the Champions League before by winning it three times. This is why we will try to improve.”
“We have a big chance in Europe, I think if we get out of the Champions League through a (solid) group,” Messi told CNN. “If we can qualify, it will be very good, and I think it’s a good mission for us.”
The former Barcelona teammates are scheduled to meet up again this week for pre-season training in the Catalan city. While it’s not Messi’s job to guide the team out of a hard group that includes bitter rivals Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, it’s clear the forward’s influence on the team is strong.
In a partnership with FIFA, the company that owns the game’s trademark, CNN will live-stream its interview with Messi throughout the season from Barcelona. CNN will also preview all 18 rounds of the UEFA Champions League by providing a live stream of every group stage match online on CNN.com and CNNGo (CNN’s mobile app).
By Grant Smith, CNN International