Barcelona star Lionel Messi has conceded it’ll be hard to improve on what has been a wonderful 2015 next year but that he and his Blaugrana team-mates will give it their best nonetheless.
Speaking after he notched another goal in a fine 4-0 win for Barcelona over Real Betis on Wednesday, the iconic forward was quizzed on whether he feels 2016 could be even better for this team than the previous 12 months, per Canal Plus (h/t the Press Association, via MailOnline).
“It's been spectacular and we wanted to finish it off this way,” said Messi of 2015. “It’s difficult to improve on what we have done, but we'll try. We have a great squad and we all want to achieve big things.”
The gravity of Barcelona’s recent achievements was really drilled home before the game against Betis, when the five trophies the team won in 2015 were paraded on the pitch pre-match.
Here's a look back at the win over Betis, as the Blaugrana signed off their brilliant year with another landslide win at the Camp Nou:
The most recent piece of silverware added was the Club World Cup, which Barca won after a 3-0 win over River Plate in Japan in mid-December. This season, they also lifted the UEFA Super Cup, which was on display alongside the Copa del Rey, Primera Division and Champions League crowns that were secured during the 2014-15 term.
As we can see here, courtesy of Bleacher Report UK, for Barcelona, and particularly their attacking trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, it’s been a wonderful 12 months:
It’ll be intriguing to see whether this team is capable of scaling similar heights in 2016 and whether Messi can continue to sprinkle his stardust on matches with such regularity.
The Argentina skipper may not be same player who scored 91 goals in a calendar year back in 2012, but he’s still just as important to Barcelona. His influence on the side is likely to be recognised very early in the new year, as Messi is currently the massive favourite to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or accolade, which is awarded to the world’s finest footballer.
Should he secure the award, it’d be the fifth time the forward has been recognised as the world’s best player by the sport’s governing body. As we can see below, courtesy of Squawka, ever since he burst onto the scene, Messi has been incredibly consistent:
Lionel Messi's Barcelona career by numbers: 500 games, 425 goals. On another level, from another planet, etc. pic.twitter.com/PJe53cwV2y— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 30, 2015
Will Barcelona sweep the board next season?
With Neymar and Suarez in the side, Messi now plays a little more withdrawn, seeking to get more involved in general play and become the key creative axis in the team. That’s a trend that’s likely to continue in 2016, and although that may not result in quite as many goals, the 28-year-old should remain vital to any success Barca will have.
The only way Barca will be able to better 2015 is by adding the Spanish Super Cup to their haul, a trophy they missed out on after losing to Athletic Club in August. But emboldened by what seems like an inevitable Ballon d’Or win, expect big things from Messi in the months to come. With Suarez and Neymar constantly improving alongside him, few would back against this team sweeping the board.