Milan: Lionel Messi is set to make his 100th Champions League appearance when Barcelona launch their title defence at Roma in a sold-out Stadio Olimpico in today's Group E opener.

Lionel Messi. Pic/AFP
Lionel Messi. Pic/AFP 

The Argentinian superstar scored a total of 60 goals and set up 28 more in 60 appearances last season, helping the Blaugrana capture a Primera Division, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble.

Messi, who came off the bench to score the winner in Saturday's 2-1 triumph at Atletico Madrid that kept Barca perfect in La Liga and two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the domestic standings, is expected to start against Roma.

"Messi is always the best on the pitch," Barcelona forward Neymar said to Marca. "He always makes the difference and that helps us to win games.

"We've started the season well and we are working towards winning every game.