Lionel Messi barely speaks in public, but when he does his words are never trivial. The Argentinian striker spoke ahead of Wednesday's CONMEBOl-UEFA Cup of Champions match where Argentina face Italy in the first ever meeting between the Copa America and Euro winners. He opened up about his feelings about who has to win the Ballon d'Or this year, Real Madrid's win against Liverpool and much more.
"The best team doesn't always win," Messi told TyC Sports of the UCL final, which Real won 1-0. "Real Madrid, without taking anything away from them, much less because they are the champions of the Champions League and are always there, they weren't the best team in this Champions League and yet they beat them all."
LEO Y LA CHAMPIONS: "No siempre gana el mejor. El Real Madrid, sin quitarle mérito ni mucho menos porque es el campeón de Champions y siempre está ahí, no era el mejor equipo de esta Champions y sin embargo les ganó a todos". pic.twitter.com/knAEU4ZHgU— TyC Sports (@TyCSports) May 30, 2022
Messi's team, PSG, lost in the round of 16 to Real Madrid, and that was a difficult moment for the dressing room, falling way short of their expectations.
"The Real Madrid thing killed us," he said.
"I know what Real Madrid are, I've lived it for many years, all my life, up close. And I knew that could happen, because out of nowhere they score a goal and it automatically changes the match.
"If a strange [event] happens or a goal happens, it changes again and I already knew that it could happen, and it happened to us and to all of the teams that they played, It is not the first time that it happens.
"I wanted to win it again and it annoyed me not being able to. It also makes me see that the best team does not always win the Champions League, that the Champions League is about situations. There are specific moments, psychological moments that grab a team, where the slightest mistake leaves you out and the one who is most prepared for those situations ends up winning it or reaching the final."
Messi also spoke about the Ballon d'Or and said that there are no doubts this year as to who will win.
"I think there are no doubts, it's very clear that [Karim] Benzema had a spectacular year and ended up winning the Champions League, being fundamental from the last 16 on, in every game," Messi said. "I think there is no doubt this year with the Ballon d'Or."
Benzema scored back-to-back hat tricks against PSG and Chelsea in the knockout stages, and he also scored three times against Manchester City in the semifinals.
Messi did open up about his emotional homage in December 2020 after the passing of legendary player Diego Armando Maradona. He celebrated a goal wearing the No. 10 jersey that Maradona wore when he played for Newell's Old Boys, the team of Rosario, Argentina that Messi supports. He was looking to find a way to honor his former coach before finding the jersey, and he assumed it would be with a national team shirt. But in a strange situation, he went to his trophy room and saw the Maradona Newell's jersey sitting on a chair, perfectly waiting for him.
"It was the night before and I was with [my wife] Antonela, lying down and I was telling her, 'I have to do something for Diego,'" Messi said. "I have a museum [in a room] with trophies, shirts … And I'm going to see what's there. I went to look for a national team shirt or something. I went upstairs and there's a little door that's always closed, where we put things. And it was open and there was a chair, and on top was the number 10 Newell's shirt. I went in and saw it. That door is always closed and I don't know what it was really doing there. I didn't even remember I had it. And I saw it like that and I said, 'That's it'. It was unbelievable. It was about 11 at night. It seems incredible."