Madrid: FC Barcelona's prolific striker Lionel Messi may not have scored as his side defeated Manchester City 1-0 on Wednesday night to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but there is no doubt he was back to his brilliant best.
Lionel Messi. Pic/AFP
As well as torturing the City midfield and defence, Messi set up Ivan Rakitic for the only goal of the game and but for the heroics of Joe Hart in the City goal he would have scored a hat-trick, reports Xinhua.
He produced his display at just the right time as Barcelona now prepare to entertain arch-foes Real Madrid on Sunday in a 'Clasico'. The encounter in the Camp Nou Stadium could well decide the destination of this season's La Liga title.
Barcelona lead their eternal rivals by one point in the league table and a win will take them four clear and consume a great 2015, which began with both coach, Luis Enrique and Messi questioned.
Since losing to Real Sociedad on January 3, Barcelona have their best form and Messi has not stopped talking. He now leads Cristiano Ronaldo in the goalscoring charts with 32 league goals this season.
"I feel good, I am enjoying the moment in which I am and I am enjoying the way the team is playing," said Messi, who highlighted how things had improved.
"Not so long ago, people were saying I was a disaster, but when we kicked off the year, we did so in another way, with new hope and desire. We have had a few ups and downs, which is normal, but we are back to a great level of form," he commented.
Real's form of late has been questioned, with forwards Gareth Bale and Ronaldo especially under the spotlight, but Messi insisted his side was approaching the Clasico.
"With a lot of respect to Madrid, they are a great team and we have to respect them more than ever.
"This is when they try to be at their strongest, but we'll try and play our game and beat them," he concluded.