Ernesto Valverde praised Lionel Messi for “always” delivering after the star guided Barcelona past Manchester United and into the Champions League semi-finals.
Messi scored a first-half brace and Philippe Coutinho added Barca’s third in a 3-0 win over United at Camp Nou on Tuesday, a result that sealed a 4-0 aggregate success.
The goals were Messi’s first in the Champions League quarter-finals since April 2013 as Barca moved into a last-four meeting with either Liverpool or Porto.
Valverde was predictably delighted with Messi, who is up to 45 goals in all competitions this season.
“Messi always appears,” he told Movistar. “Not only in moments, but in the games as a whole.
“He scores but is also the offensive weight of our team.”
Now we just need ‘the cup with the big ears’ in between those arms Leo
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 16, 2019
Barca will enter the semi-finals as one of the favourites to win the Champions League for what would be their sixth title.
However, head coach Valverde played down favouritism and said his side’s next focus was on reaching the final at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.
“We have done two good games. That is what you have to do to be able to continue in the Champions League and that you consider us more or less favourites,” he said.
“We are well. We are confident for the next tie against a great rival and for that we have 10 or 15 days left. We would like to reach the final.”
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