Barcelona's Lionel Messi makes Champions League pledge in captain's speech
Lionel Messi has pledged that Barcelona will do they can this season to bring Champions League glory back to the Camp Nou in his first public address as club captain.
Messi made the rare speech on Wendesday night before Barcelona's preseason Joan Gamper Trophy match against Boca Juniors, with his promise to the home crowd coming after the club's bitter rivals Real Madrid won a third consecutive Champions League title in May.
"Last season was really good as we did the double but we all felt bad about how it went in the Champions League," Messi said. "We promise that this season we will do all we can to bring that beautiful trophy back to the Camp Nou."
Messi inherited the armband following Andres Iniesta's departure for Japanese club Vissel Kobe in the summer, and he paid tribute to the Spain midfielder and the other teammates who preceded him as captain.
"It's a source of great pride to be captain," Messi said before the 3-0 win. "I know what it means to wear the armband but I am lucky to have had great role models such as [Carles] Puyol, Xavi and the great Andres whom we will miss this season."
Messi's sign-off of the traditional motto "Visca el Barca i Visca Catalunya!" was greeted with cheers by the home fans, but they will be expecting improvement from their team in Europe.
Barca have won seven La Liga titles in the last 10 years, but since claiming a fifth Champions League crown in 2015 they have failed to progress past the quarterfinals. During that time, Real Madrid have extended their record haul of European Cup triumphs to 13.
Puyol, who captained Barca to Champions League glory in 2006 and 2009, suggested in May that Madrid's domination in Europe should force the Catalan club to rethink their priorities.
"I am convinced that [Barca] have a better team than Madrid and yet they've won four Champions Leagues in five years," he said at the time. I think the solution is to not make mistakes with your priorities. [Barca are] losing an opportunity and it angers me as a Barca fan."