Lionel Messi has said that Barcelona got over their dip in form just in time to salvage two of the three titles they sought.
The Catalan club were clearly atop the Spanish Primera Division title race until mid-April when they lost to Atletico Madrid in the defence of their Champions League crown and also lost three straight La Liga games for the first time since February 2003.
Now past the disappointment over not becoming the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues or seek the Treble, Messi said that Barcelona remain focused on the Copa del Rey and La Liga titles.
The Blaugrana club remained on top of La Liga by beating Espanyol, 5-0, and moving on to 88 points, one ahead of Real Madrid in second and three above Atletico Madrid, who dropped out of the title race after losing 2-1 at Levante.
“Luckily we have been able to get several points ahead,” Messi told ESPN Deportes’ Quique Wolf. “We suffered a dip at a time when we least expected it, after the international break, we had Real Madrid and then Atletico Madrid and then consecutive games in La Liga where we dropped many points. Luckily we counted on ourselves and now we are back on top.”
Now within one win of a 24th Primera Division title, Messi said the club have corrected course and are more united.
“Luckily we caught that in time and banded together. The truth is the elimination by Atletico Madrid in Champions was tough,” Messi said. “We had been far superior in the first leg and we could have defined the qualifier, but the way we left it and then having to play there [Estadio Vicente Calderon], well that was very difficult. Because Atletico Madrid do what they do very well and that made it more complicated.”
Messi said that he didn’t expect Saturday’s final match to be easy even though Granada’s 4-1 win at Sevilla on Sunday means that the Andalusians will not be fighting next weekend for points to stay in the Primera Division.
Since their shocking dip in form about a month ago, Barca have now scored 21 times without conceding even once as they have seen off Deportivo La Coruna, Sporting Gijon, Real Betis and now their cross-town neighbours.
“We have two finals left, and it would be great to end the season winning them both,” Messi said. “It also would have been great to have been in the Champions League final but it wasn’t to be. So winning two of three would be spectacular.”