The Catalan coach admits his Argentine attacker makes breaking records look far too easy after setting another milestone
Lionel Messi gets better with each passing day as head coach Ernesto Valverde heaped praise on Barcelona’s record-breaking superstar following Wednesday’s Champions League victory.
Messi set a new Champions League record with his goal-scoring display in Barca’s unconvincing 2-1 victory away to Slavia Prague in Group F midweek.
The Barca captain’s third-minute goal saw him become the first soccer professional to score in the Champions League for 15 consecutive seasons, while he also matched Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid great Raul in having netted against 33 different opponents in Europe’s premier club competition.
Valverde revealed post-match that Messi has been somehow getting even better and has made breaking records look far too easy.
“He’s the soccer professional who can decide any game. Every day we see him he’s even better,” Valverde said.
“One more record for the incredible Leo. They are easy to say, it seems natural, but it has been very difficult to achieve.”
Sergio Busquets was also waxing lyrical about Messi post-match and has been thankful to see him firing again after recent injuries.
“He’s had a tough start to the season because of injuries. He’s fundamental to the way we play and a lot goes through him,” he said.
“He’s getting his rhythm back but it won’t take him long because he’s the best in the world.”
After Messi’s opener, Slavia managed to restore parity via Jan Boril five minutes into the second half but a huge slice of luck benefited Barca, who saw Peter Olayinka deflected in Luis Suarez’s effort.
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The win saw Barca improve to seven points from three games, three points ahead of Inter and Borussia Dortmund with Valverde under no illusions that there win on Wednesday was far from perfect.
“These games, you have to know how to play them,” he said. “We have lacked peace of mind in the opposite field. I think we had clearer chances than they did.
“You always want to rule the matches from minute one to 90. Today we had to suffer, from time to time we must suffer. There are times when you will have to go down to the mud and defend certain situations.”