Lionel Messi hailed Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Alaves on Sunday as an “important step forwards” for his team after an impressive performance in their final La Liga game of the season.
Quique Setien’s side went into the match in need of a morale boost after seeing rivals Real Madrid crowned champions of Spain and having suffered a 2-1 defeat to 10-man Osasuna last time out.
Thursday’s loss had seen Messi blast his team for their performances after the match, but the captain was a lot happier at the final whistle at the Mendizorrotza Stadium.
“Today was a very different game because of the situation we were in. The team responded with attitude and commitment. It was an important step forwards for what comes which will be difficult but which is important to us.
“It hasn’t been a great season in terms of play or results, but we have taken an important step in terms of attitude and commitment which has to be the first thing, other things can follow from that. We have to go out with the same attitude or even more.
“It’s an important moment for us because we still have important things to play for. We are all aware that we can be a lot better, as the coach said the other day, we had a good game today and that’s what we have to maintain now.
“We need a bit of calm now, in this break. Wipe the slate, and come back for what we have to do. We have said what we had to say, the self-criticism. Now it is about showing that things can change. And today was an important step forward in that.”
Messi finished off the season with two goals and an assist in the 5-0 win. Ansu Fati, Luis Suarez, and Nelson Semedo were also on target in a result that will ease some of the mounting pressure on manager Quique Setien.
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Messi Plays Down Pichichi Praise
Messi’s two goals for Barcelona also mean he is closing in on winning a record seventh Pichich trophy, awarded to the top scorer in Spain’s top flight.
The Argentina international ends his season on 25 goals, while his nearest challenge is Karim Benzema who is four behind and will play Leganes later in the day.
Messi was asked about the prospect of landing the Pichichi prize yet again and produced a typically humble response.
“I always say that individual objectives are secondary. It would be significant to get seven Pichichis but it would have been nice to have been accompanied by the league title as it has been on other occasions.”
If Messi does win the Pichichi as expected it will be the fourth consecutive season he has been crowned Spain’s top scorer. It’s also worth noting that he started the season late, missing Barca’s first four La Liga games due to injury.