Buenos Aires: FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi said being eliminated from the 2015-16 Champions League football quarter-finals by Atletico Madrid was a difficult blow for him and his team-mates.
"The truth is the elimination by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League was tough," the Argentine international said in an interview with ESPN on Monday, reports Efe.
Lionel Messi. Pic/ AFP
"We had been far superior in the first leg and we could have defined the qualifier, but the way we left it and then having to play there, well, that was very difficult. Because Atletico Madrid do what they do very well and that made it more complicated," Messi said.
Barcelona, the defending Champions League winners, prevailed 2-1 in the first leg at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, but Atletico dominated 2-0 in the second leg at Madrid's Vicente Calderon stadium to win 3-2 on aggregate.
"They are a team very uncomfortable to play against," Messi said of Atletico. "And (coach Diego Simeone) deserves much merit for what he has done and made his players believe in him and do things perfectly because he has been at this for a while now."
After beating Barcelona, Atletico went on to win the semi-final against Bayern Munich and on May 28 - for the second time in three years - they will face Real Madrid in the final.
Real Madrid won in extra time in 2014 to claim their record 10th Champions League trophy.
Asked whether he is pulling for Atletico in the final, Messi replied: "Always for Barcelona, the fans don't want to see Real Madrid win anything, as they also feel toward us."
"But in the end it is a final that they made it to again and for us, we just need to focus on what we can win. We have two finals left, and it would be great to end the season winning them both," the five-time World Footballer of the Year said.
Barcelona sits one point ahead of arch-rivals Real Madrid in La Liga with one match left to play and can clinch the title with a victory over 16th-place Granada.
On May 22, Barcelona will meet Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final.
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