Barcelona striker Lionel Messi maintains that the team’s progress in the Champions League was the most important aspect of his side’s 7-1 win over German side Bayer Leverkusen in Wednesday second leg last-16 clash.
The worlds best player was at his unstoppable best against Leverkusen while making the history as he became the first player to score five goals in a single match in the Champions League era.
However, in typically-modest fashion, Messi preferred to divert his focus onto the rest of his team-mates for their collective efforts, insisting that securing their progression to the quarter-finals of the competition was more significant than any individual achievement of his.
Messi speaking to Uefa.com said – “The most important thing tonight [Wednesday night] is that all these goals we scored take us one step closer to winning the Champions League, which is our objective.
“We went out there wanting to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals and we achieved that.
“I have always said that it’s fantastic when things come off for you and you play well, but only if you meet your aims for the match.
“That’s what happened against Leverkusen. The team played very, very well, the performance had some beautiful moments and we scored lots of goals.”
Messi went into Wednesday’s clash on the back of his first-ever hat-trick for Argentina in the 3-1 win over Switzerland in last week’s friendly, and he is determined to soak up the fruits of his current purple patch.
“It’s all about enjoying the moment – from how it went with Argentina the other week to how it’s going right now for my club,” he continued.
“The sweetest part of it, for me, is that the team continue their run of form at the moment, winning games in style; that’s the way to go as far as we can in the Champions League.”
The 24-year-old also opined on the progress of young forward Cristian Tello, who added to the rout with a pair of well-taken strikes, and Messi expressed his joy at seeing many of Barca’s younger contingent being given the chance to impress.
“Obviously, it makes me happy to see Tello achieving that,” Messi said. “He’s been training and playing with the first team for a while now.
“However, he’s not the only one doing well – there are a number of youth-team products who are emerging with him.
“The coach shows real faith in the players who have been developed in-house and Tello took advantage of the opportunity given to him today, just as others have been doing already this season. We are all delighted for him,” he concluded.
Barcelona will discover their quarter-final opponents in the Champions League on March 16.