Messi gets rare matchup against Argentine club
Argentina international Lionel Messi is looking forward to a new
challenge – playing a club from his native country for the first
European champion Barcelona, playing for a sixth major trophy
in 2009, will face Estudiantes on Saturday in the Club World Cup
final, and the Golden Ball winner will start despite an ankle
“It’s special to play against them, a very nice thing since
I’ve never played against an Argentine team,” Messi said Friday.
Messi never played in Argentina because Barcelona signed him
from Newell’s Old Boys when he was only a teenager. Now he can help
lead the Catalan club to its first trophy in the Club World Cup in
its third final appearance.
“We’re conscious of what is possible. We have everything we
need,” said Messi, who has scored 15 goals in 22 appearances this
season. “We need to win to close out the year with another title
not only for the historical importance to the club and to world
Messi said coming up against Juan Sebastian Veron was an
extra incentive since the two bonded when they were Argentina
teammates at the 2007 Copa America.
“We got closer there and he helped to give me a lot of
confidence,” Messi said. “He helped me a lot.”
Messi looked set to start after recovering from an ankle
injury to score with his first touch in the Spanish champion’s 3-1
semifinal win over Mexican club Atlante.
Messi’s not worried about getting banged up by what is
expected to be a physical game.
“They’re like that. But we have to play the same way we
always do,” Messi said. “It’s up to the referee to make the
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said Messi’s incredible season
was a collective effort.
“This has not just been a good year for Leo in his desire to
be the world’s best,” Guardiola said. “It’s also depended on all of