Lionel Messi last night raised the stakes in the run-up to the Champions League final by claiming that Barcelona had "more football" than Manchester United, and suggesting that if they can lift the European Cup on 27 May they could go down as the greatest team in the club's history.
Messi who, along with four other certain starters for next week's final was rested for yesterday's insignificant away fixture at Mallorca, called on his team-mates to add the Champions League to the Spanish league title and the Spanish Cup and make Barcelona the first side to win the treble in Spain.
"We are going to give everything to win the Champions League. Manchester United have a great team with some great players but I think we just have that little bit more football," he said. "We have to take advantage of this moment because we don't know if it will ever present itself again. We have the chance to pass into the history books of a club as great as Barcelona and we are going to do just that."
The famous dream team of the Nineties won four consecutive league titles and a European Cup under the management of Johan Cruyff. And Frank Rijkaard's side built around Ronaldinho won the league and Champions League double but the treble would put this Barcelona side beyond even those two teams.
Messi said: "The team that won the league and the Champions league in the same season  played some wonderful football and was great to watch but if we win the Champions we will be able to say that it is even better."
Barça's Argentine forward was at home when Real Madrid's defeat to Villarreal on Saturday night confirmed the Catalans as La Liga champions. And with nothing to play for last night against Mallorca he, along with midfielders Xavi, and Yaya Touré and defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique did not even travel to the Balearic island.
Messi is also unlikely to start in next week's home game against Osasuna as he sets his sights on making up for missing out on the 2006 final through injury. He added: "I couldn't really enjoy the last Champions League win because I was injured in the quarter-finals. This time I have played right the way through and to go on and win the final would just make it complete."
Messi should be joined by Thierry Henry in Rome. The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, has admitted to being optimistic that the French striker will win his fitness battle. He said: "There are nine days left and he [Henry] is very upbeat. My hopes are high that he will be able to play the final. He is coming along very well indeed."
While for Barça, all roads now lead to Rome, their eternal rivals Madrid are stuck in La Liga purgatory. After the 3-2 away defeat to Villarreal that ended their title chances, they now have two meaningless games left to play and a coach and playing staff unsure of their future under former Galacticos president Florentino Perez, who is set to return to the post in the club's elections next month.Reuse content