Spartak Moscow coach Unai Emery has hailed Barcelona star Lionel Messi prior to their Champions League showdown on Tuesday night.
The Ballon d’Or nominee, who recently broke Brazil legend Pele’s record for scoring the most goals during one calendar year with his 76th strike against Mallorca, is now only nine behind Gerd Mueller’s tally.
Having a tough meeting with Tito Vilanova’s men ahead of him, Emery revealed his belief that the South American star is truly one of a kind.
“He has a special gene; it’s unique.” he said.
“It’s the essence of the game. He does everything so naturally, that, when he scores three goals in a match, it seems normal to us.”
However, the Spanish coach insisted that, although they are blessed with an outstanding individual player, it is the whole team which makes Barcelona dangerous opponents.
“Barcelona are still centred around Messi, but they give a lot of importance to the group and the contribution of all the players,” the former Valencia coach said.
“It’s a philosophy that has marked an age, that will stay with us but won’t be repeated.”
He then shared his view on his team’s chances of beating the club that many consider Champions League favourites for this year, and after seeing his side come close to an upset in Camp Nou, he has refused to rely on Siberian conditions to get him an important victory.
“We shouldn’t look to the weather to give us more of a chance. We had a good match in the away game,” Emery said.
“It was Messi who decided things. We have to repeat what we did there, but playing as well in defence as in attack. If we do that we’ll be close to winning.”