Lionel Messi: Barcelona will try to improve on 'spectacular' 5-trophy 2015
Lionel Messi said Barcelona would try and improve on their record-breaking 2015 after he scored on his 500th Blaugrana appearance as Real Betis were beaten 4-0 in Wednesday evening's La Liga clash at the Camp Nou.
Messi was also involved in the controversial penalty incident which lead to Betis defender Heiko Westermann's own goal that opened the scoring.
The Argentine quickly made it 2-0 after some typically superb interplay with fellow superstar Neymar.
Barca's third South American attacker Luis Suarez scored twice more after the break, with Messi being denied at least a couple of more goals by a combination of visiting keeper Antonio Adan and the woodwork.
Before the game, Barca had shown off the five trophies they won in 2015 -- the Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey, European Supercup and Club World Cup.
Over the 90 minutes they moved to 180 goals this year -- passing the calendar-year mark set 12 months ago by a then all-conquering Real Madrid side.
Messi told Canal Plus after the final whistle it would not be easy to better their year's achievements, but he and his teammates would aim to do so.
"It has been a spectacular year and we tried to end it in the same way," Messi said. "It would be difficult to improve on what we did in 2015, but we are going to try. We have a very motivated squad, which wants to do important things."
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said in his postmatch news conference that he was already thinking about 2016 and winning more games and trophies.
"Now we must keep working, that is the only thing which will guarantee that we can repeat something like we experienced this year," Luis Enrique said. "We have a team who enjoy themselves and play well.
"2015 is now gone, I am not interested in it any more. Now we have to try and be the best again in 2016. The objective is to win again. There cannot be any other objective."
Barca's success filled 2015 could be bettered, Luis Enrique claimed, while saying he was proud of his own personal contribution over the last year.
"I would give it nine out of 10," he said. "Everything can be improved upon. As a player I gave everything, I always ended up satisfied. Now it depends on the players to win trophies, but I feel proud. I would not pick out one particular moment -- neither good nor bad."
Messi said he had known nothing about Basque referee Inaki Vicandi Garrido's controversial decision to award a penalty when Adan punched a cross clear and then collided painfully with the Barca No. 10 -- a call which came with the game scoreless and the visitors growing in confidence.
"I don't know, that's the truth," he said. "There was a clash and I did not realise. I did not see him coming, I wanted to control the ball on my chest. Really, I don't know [what happened]."
Mid-table Betis had been well into the game until the penalty decision, but Luis Enrique would not fault the referee.
"Sometimes referees make mistakes, they are human like the rest of us," Luis Enrique said. "I don't overreact when it goes for us, or when it goes against us.
"It is very difficult to be a referee -- I know as we do it at training. We have had mistakes for us and against us. It forms part of football."
Despite the team's slow start, Messi denied his own busy personal schedule -- over 40,000 kilometres travelled since the Club World Cup final just 10 days ago -- had affected his own readiness to play.
"We were coming back from the holidays. We must get our rhythm back," he said.
"After the Club World Cup they said it would be difficult to get through this game, but we've done it. We had enough rest. It was a strange game, many things happened, but we got the three points."
Asked about the upcoming 2015 Ballon d'Or ceremony, when Messi is expected to pick up a fifth career award, he again claimed to be unaware of what was coming.
"I don't know anything," was his short response.