Messi wants to win title for Tito Vilanova
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to meet on Saturday in what promises to be a dramatic title decider
Lionel Messi wants to dedicate the possible Spanish league title win to the memory of former coach Tito Vilanova he recently said in an interview, Reuters reported.
Vilanova, who won the Spanish league title in his only season in charge of the Catalan club, died on April 25 after a long battle with throat cancer.
“Obviously Tito would love if we win the Liga after everything that happened this year,” the Barcelona star said in a recent interview.
“He would be thrilled if we can dedicate the title to him, to someone that loved the club so much, that was so passionate.”
Barcelona seemed all but out of the title race a few weeks ago, however recent poor results from leaders Atletico Madrid mean the defending champions are still in with a chance of winning the La Liga.
The two sides meet at the Nou Camp on Saturday (May 17) in what promises to be a dramatic final-day title decider.
Atletico leads with 89 points, three better than Barcelona, which means a draw will be enough for Atletico to become champions for the first time since 1996. However, a win for the Catalan giants will mean they win the title on the head-to-head rule having drawn with Atletico in Madrid earlier in the season.
Messi still believes his club will not miss out on the second chance they have been given and will retain their la Liga title. Failure to do so would mean the football giant would finish the season without a trophy, first in seven years.
“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 said while visiting his sponsor Audemars Piguet's manufacturing headquarters, based in Le Brassus, Switzerland.
Atletico Madrid have revolutionized Spanish soccer under the stewardship of Argentinean manager Diego Simeone. The club has a chance of snatching La Liga title as well as lifting the Champions League trophy later this month when they meet fellow Spanish club Real Madrid in the final in Lisbon.
Messi believes having the third strong team from Spain can only bring benefits.
“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,” he said.
The 26-year old has also complimented the work of compatriot Simeone at Atletico and even hinted that one day he could be leading the Argentinean national team.
“It is very likely that one day we will see him 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,” said Messi.
The Barcelona star also addressed his national team's chance of taking its first World Cup title since 1986 at the upcoming tournament in Brazil, insisting there is no pressure on the team to win the cup.
“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,” said a determined Messi.
A Diego Maradona inspired Argentina last won the competition in 1986 at the Mexico World Cup and Argentina, lead by Messi, will be one of the favorites at this year's edition, starting on June 12.