Lionel Messi Talks World Cup, Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid and Tito Vilanova

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Lionel Messi Talks World Cup, Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid and Tito Vilanova
Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has revealed he isn't feeling any pressure ahead of the upcoming World Cup and told reporters he believes it's very likely Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone will one day coach the Argentina national team.

The star forward spoke on a wide range of topics, including his team's title-deciding fixture against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, as reported by Reuters (via Al Arabiya).

Messi believes Atleti's rise to prominence is only going to make La Liga stronger, and he reserved special praise for compatriot Simeone, who has overseen said rise:

I think Atletico Madrid have had a fantastic year. They are in the final of the Champions League, fighting until the last minute for the La Liga title. Their performances are making the league even better, so I think it is very good but I hope that, in the end, we will be champions.

It is very likely that one day we will see him [Simeone] as the head of the Argentina national team because he is a great coach and I think that he will want to coach the team.

Atletico currently lead La Liga by three points but will have to travel to the Camp Nou on the final matchday, and a win by Barcelona would hand the league title to the Blaugrana.

The two clubs have met on five occasions already this season, and Barcelona have yet to defeat Atletico in 2013-14, losing one in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Madrid seemed to be cruising to their first league title since 1996 before dropping points in back-to-back matches, setting up a dramatic finish to the current campaign at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Barcelona were thought to be well out of the title race just a few weeks back, and a win on Saturday would conclude one of the most dramatic comebacks La Liga has seen.

Messi would love nothing more than to win and to dedicate a potential title to Tito Vilanova, the former Barelona manager who died on April 25, losing his battle with throat cancer:

Obviously Tito would love if we win the Liga after everything that happened this year.

He would be thrilled if we can dedicate the title to him, to someone that loved the club so much, that was so passionate.

The Catalan giants are in danger of finishing the season without silverware, something that hasn't happened in seven years. To add to their misery, both their exit in the Champions League quarter-finals and their loss in the final of the Copa del Rey came at the hands of two of their biggest rivals.

A win on Saturday would mean the Blaugrana would finish the season on a high note, however, and the star forward explained to journalists why he feels the La Liga trophy may very well be the most important one to the club:

I think that La Liga is a very important championship because it represents a full year's worth of work. And we have had a very complicated year - its been difficult. In the last years we have been experiencing difficult situations yet we have always managed to overcame those. So, if we win La Liga, it would be very good for us. Will winning save the year? I don't know. But for sure it's a very important title.

Messi's Barcelona teammate Xavi believes his club deserves to win the Spanish title, per BBC Sport:

We have got a historic opportunity and now we cannot mess it up.

The league is over nine months and we have worked hard to get here. It has been a difficult year off the field but we deserve to win the league title.

Speaking about the upcoming World Cup, Messi surprised reporters when he told them he didn't feel any pressure to win. He explained why:

No, there is no pressure. Argentina is always obliged to fight for the championship. It's always among the favorites because of the relevance of Argentinean football. I think we are in a good place now. We have a good opportunity of doing something big. We are calm and exited to achieve our goal.

Argentine football is indeed in a good place right now, with a golden generation of attacking players dominating the European scene.

A front line led by the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain is one that would strike fear into the hearts of defenders all over the world, and they will be looked at to perform up to their usual standards in Brazil.

Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

The emergence of Simeone, meanwhile, should have fans of the Argentine team excited for the future, as his excellent work with Atletico could be a sign of bigger and better things to come.

Atletico's combination of defensive discipline and attacking flair has been applauded by pundits worldwide, and many see Simeone as the No. 1 reason for the club's recent successes.

Even Messi is apparently impressed by the work of his compatriot, and praise from such a source could easily lead to an official offer for the position of Argentine manager in the not-so-distant future.

 

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