Barcelona icon, Lionel Messi has picked out four clubs that he sees as the biggest rivals to Barcelona in the competition this season, with the last-16 ties already under way.
Barcelona were knocked out in the quarterfinals in 2018 by Roma, before being dumped by eventual champions Liverpool in the semifinal of last season’s edition but Messi believes four other sides can win it apart from his club side.
Barcelona will travel next week to face Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 clash in a competition they haven’t won since 2015.
In Messi’s assessment, it’s champions Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid who can stand in Barcelona’s way this season.
“All [the teams] are complicated and difficult. Paris went to play Dortmund and lost, Liverpool went to Atletico’s field and lost, but I think, like that and everything, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris and Madrid are the strongest today,” Messi told a wide-Mundo Deportivo.
Messi believes Liverpool can still win it despite Jurgen Klopp’s side’s 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, in the first leg of their last-16 clash.
“On the day of the draw we talked in the locker room that would be very close because Atletico competes a lot in this competition,” Messi said.
“In two-match duels they are very strong and they showed it again, that they will compete and they will be there
Talking about Man City’s UEFA ban, Messi said;
“It is surprising because nobody thought that such a thing could happen, so powerful,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo.
“Paris [Saint-Germain) paid a fine or I don’t know how it went. If in the end City does not play in the Champions League for what it is, with the players, the club, and the money it spends, it will be weird.”
Messi added: “If City do not enter the Champions League there are many players that may look for an exit, or maybe not.
“The Champions League is very attractive so two years without playing, it can be screwed.”