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May 14, 2014

Messi: Even title may not save season

Barcelona star Lionel Messi says that even winning La Liga by beating Atletico Madrid in Saturday's final day decider might not save what has been a disappointing year at the Camp Nou.

Dani Alves celebrates with Lionel Messi for Barcelona.
Barcelona can win La Liga on Saturday by beating table-toppers rivals Atletico Madrid at home.

• Hunter: Two worthy winners
Neymar set to miss Atletico clash

Los Blaugranas went into April with a chance to win La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, but a wretched few weeks saw them beaten by Real Madrid in the Copa final, fall to Atletico in Europe, and slip in and out of the running for the Spanish championship title.

Even though mistakes by their domestic rivals have let Barca back in with a chance to retain the Liga trophy, Messi said in AS that he would still have mixed feelings about the campaign, which has also been dogged by off-field controversies, no matter what happened in the final encounter.

"La Liga is very important for all that it means, for the work of a whole year which was complicated, difficult," Messi said. "We have come through difficult circumstances year after year and we have been able to overcome them.

"To end up winning La Liga would be good. I do not know if it would save the year, but it would be a very important trophy.

"[The season has been] very strange. The three teams at the top have committed a lot of mistakes and not won games we should have won to take the title. We have the fortune now to depend on ourselves."

The Argentina international is pleased that Barca would at least be able to dedicate a potential title win to former coach Tito Vilanova, who passed away after a long battle with cancer in April.

"We want to win this Liga, after everything that has happened, and to be able to dedicate it to Tito," he said. "For sure he would have wanted it as he loved this club so much and was such a huge supporter."

Whatever the outcome of the title race, it looks certain that coach Gerardo Martino will leave the Camp Nou this summer, with current Celta boss Luis Enrique lined up to take over amid a general dressing-room shake-up.

Messi admitted he did not know what Martino's immediate future held, but believes he could one day become Argentina's national manager.

"I do not know what his idea is, he will want to continue," the current Argentina captain said. "For sure some year we will see him with the Argentina national team because he is a great coach and he too will want to manage the national team."

Messi believes his country are among the favourites for this summer's World Cup, but thinks there are plenty of other candidates for the trophy.

"Argentina are always obliged to fight for championships, we are a favourite, and we are arriving in good form," he said. "We have a nice opportunity to do something big and we have a chance to reach our objective.

"The favorites are those who have manage to the win a World Cup before, and are always fighting for the trophies, and then there is always some surprise team which appears."

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