Messi: Champions League loss a ‘hard blow’

Barcelona star Lionel Messi spoke about his team's Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico and revealed his relief at Barca's return to La Liga form.

Luis Enrique saw a nine-point difference between his Barcelona side and their nearest La Liga rivals, Atletico Madrid, whittled down to only one in the space of three matches. This series of results was also interspersed with a Champions League semi-final loss to Diego Simeone's side.

A title race that many believed to be over in March has turned into a two-way race that will be decided on Saturday. If Barcelona manage three points against 16th-placed Granada, the title is theirs. Anything less will open the door for Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane's side travel to A Coruña to take on 13th-placed Deportivo.

In a conversation with ESPN, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi spoke about ending his team's poor run and the disappointment at not making the Champions League final.

"That [Champions League knockout] was a hard blow. In the first game we were far superior and could have settled the tie. Then, it’s very difficult playing against a team like Atletico as visitors with what they do. It’s complicated," he said of Atletico's much-publicised defensive approach.

"The truth is, Atletico are a very uncomfortable team. There’s a lot of merit to what [Simeone] does, he makes his players believe in what they do and they do it practically to perfection. They have very good players, not only in defence.

"We had enough points in La Liga when we had this slump. It was after the internationals and coincided with the games against Atletico. We lost a lot of points. We woke up in time. Fortunately we still depend on ourselves.

"Winning two out of three trophies would be something spectacular. We have two finals, and it would be great to win them," the Argentina international said, referring to Barcelona's upcoming Copa del Rey final against Sevilla.

"We all like the Champions League, but it wasn’t to be this time," he concluded.

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