Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite has lifted the lid on exactly what Lionel Messi is really like. The Denmark international has played alongside the captain at Barcelona since joining from Leganes in February 2019 and has spoken about his team-mate in an interview with Danish newspaper BT.
“When you know him and you’re close to him, you can see that he’s just one of the boys. He’s quiet, calm and completely down to earth,” he said. “He likes to have fun and he just wants to play football because he loves it.He talks to us more than people might think. I do not feel he is quiet. It’s more like that, the media thinks. He is talkative, there is nothing there.”
Braithwaite also spoke about the dressing room unity at Barcelona currently and feels there is a great atmosphere in the squad. He explained, “We have an amazing team spirit. A dressing room with a lot of turmoil wouldn’t be able to come back in games. We stand together and feel fantastic as a squad.”
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Another Comeback on the Cards?
Barcelona enjoyed a fine comeback in the Copa del Rey to reach the 2020-21 final on Wednesday. Braithwaite scored the winning goal as the Catalan giants came back from 2-0 down after the first leg to beat Sevilla 3-2 on aggregate.
Yet another comeback is needed on Wednesday in the Champions League. Barcelona is 4-1 down to Paris Saint-Germain after the first match at the Camp Nou and needs a big performance if they are to overcome the odds and make the quarter-finals.
Barcelona does have history when it comes to comebacks and PSG. The Catalans last faced the French champions in Europe’s top competition back in 2017 and lost the first leg 4-0. However, a 6-1 victory in the return saw Barca progress in what remains one of the greatest comebacks in the competition’s history.
Braithwaite To Play a Role?
Messi is guaranteed to start against PSG at the Parc des Princes and is great form with seven goals and four assists in his last seven matches in all competitions for Koeman’s side.
Braithwaite is expected to start on the bench but could be a useful option as a substitute for the visitors. The 29-year-old is far from first choice at the Camp Nou but has proven a useful squad member with seven goals and three assists so far this season for Barcelona.
Messi is expected to start alongside either Ousmane Dembele or Antoine Griezmann in attack if Koeman sticks with the 3-5-2 formation he has used recently which has brought wins against Sevilla and Osasuna.
Griezmann got the nod for Saturday’s win over Osasuna but struggled to make much impact and has now gone eight games without a goal. Meanwhile, Dembele has two goals in his last three Barca outings and maybe the more likely option.
Of course, Koeman could also play Messi, Griezmann, and Dembele together if he reverts back to a 4-3-3 formation. The Dutchman could be tempted to tweak his set-up with center-backs Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo not in the squad due to injury.