Lionel Messi credits manager Luis Enrique's more aggressive approach for Barcelona's success, and he believes the lack of ego that stars like Neymar and Luis Suarez show is the key to their fantastic attacking approach.
The Blaugrana will travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, and Messi used the opportunity to sit down with the Sun's Antony Kastrinakis for an exclusive interview.
Asked about some of the differences between former manager and current City boss Pep Guardiola and Enrique, he highlighted aggression and an emphasis on counter-attacks:
In reality, the system of Barcelona is something that everyone knows.
I can say we are one of the few clubs that have it, but each boss has different things and applies them as he sees fit.
We have not noticed massive changes but, yes, some — in that with Luis maybe now we are a bit more aggressive when we attack at speed, whilst with Pep we used counter-attacks less.
Under Guardiola, the Catalans established one of the greatest sides of all time, winning three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues. Guardiola left the club in 2012, taking a sabbatical before ending up with Bayern Munich. Tito Vilanova and Gerardo Martino each spent one season at the helm of the Blaugrana before Enrique carried on the tradition of winning.
The 46-year-old has guided Barcelona to two more La Liga titles and a Champions League win in the 2014-15 season, part of their treble-winning campaign.
Part of their success is the lack of individualism the Catalans always seem to display on the pitch, even in a team with annual Ballon d'Or hopefuls like Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Messi explained why that is:
We are a group and we work together to win. There is no egotism in anyone in this squad.
We always try to enjoy playing together and a goal also gives you confidence, so we always try to enjoy it together when we have a game under control.
Ney is also a person who is very close to us and who we admire a lot. He has such a joyful character. We all get on very well together.
The 29-year-old is already regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, becoming a global sensation almost immediately after making his Barcelona debut and sustaining his success for years on end.
With eight domestic titles, four Champions League trophies and five Ballon d'Or wins under his belt, he's already one of the most decorated athletes the sport has ever seen.
When asked about his motivation to keep getting better, he gave a simple answer: "I’m not obsessive, but I work for what I am, which is a football player, and my objective is to win titles with my team each weekend. The same goes for the national team, although we’ve not yet been able to win a big one."
He also spoke at length about the two Champions League finals he played against Manchester United, in 2009 and 2011, when he scored in both matches. He described both goals as "inexplicable feelings" and said he enjoyed those special moments with the Blaugrana fans.
Lastly, he sent a warning to the Citizens, who were embarrassed at the Camp Nou in their last Champions League match, losing 4-0. Star midfielder Andres Iniesta will miss the match because of injury, but spirits are high in the Barcelona dressing room, and the team will travel to Manchester "very confident."
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!