Lionel Messi is relishing the prospect of another UEFA Champions League campaign after Barcelona were drawn against Milan in the group stage.
The Barca talisman suffered a hamstring injury in the first leg of last year’s quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, but was still able to have a key impact in the second leg as they qualified for the semi-finals.
Messi’s lack of fitness proved telling in the last four, however, with eventual winners Bayern Munich cruising to a 7-0 aggregate win.
Barca are one of the favourites to lift the trophy this time around, but face a tough challenge in the group stage against Milan, Celtic and Dutch champions Ajax.
Serie A giants Milan and Scottish title winners Celtic both experienced success against the Catalan club in last season’s competition, and Messi recognises that progression into the knock-out rounds will be no easy task.
“This season’s group will not be easy, but we are looking forward to some good games,” Messi said.
“You don’t get any easy groups, but this is a nice one. We played Milan and Celtic last season, and it is our first time against Ajax. It will be a difficult group.”
The 26-year-old – who has won three Champions League titles with Barca – is predictably setting his sights high for the new campaign, and is hopeful that Gerardo Martino’s men can atone for the disappointment of last season.
“Bayern were superb last season and better than Barcelona,” he added.
“But hopefully this season we can do better. When you play for a club like Barcelona, the only option is to try and win it all.”