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Messi the only player in the world who can win a game on his own : Anderson

London: Former Barcelona striker Sonny Anderson says Lionel Messi can win any game on his own, but he understands why coach Ernesto Valverde has left him out of his team this season.

The Spanish champions are preparing to face another of Anderson’s former sides Lyon in the Champions League.

 

Messi has been left out of Valverde’s team on a number of occasions this term, most significantly for the Copa del Rey semi-final draw against Real Madrid earlier in February.

And ahead of Champions League last-16 first leg, Anderson was sympathetic with Valverde’s need to rotate his star man in order to get the best out of him.

In an exclusive interview with Goal, the Brazilian said: “Messi is one hundred per cent capable of winning any game on his own and at any moment he wants, and that is why he [Valverde] takes care of him at Barcelona.

“He wants him to be at his best. Barcelona will suffer a lot when he is not there, so I see very well that they take care of him.

“I fully understand that he was not in the starting line against Real Madrid, and that the team has the quality to play some games without Messi.

“But as a rule he [Valverde] has to try to get the most out of him because he is the only player in the world capable of deciding a game on his own.”

Barca go into the tie against the Ligue 1 outfit as favourites to progress, but to do so they will have to find a way past a team that has already got the better of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Lyon edged through to the last-16 after finishing second behind City in the group stage, and needed a hard-fought draw against Shakhtar Donetsk on the final matchday to ensure progression.

“The Lyon game is more difficult than it seems,” said Anderson. “Already against Manchester City and PSG, they have made good duels this season. It is a team that usually improves when playing against the strongest in Europe.

“I think with or without Messi, it will be very difficult for them. Lyon can get a good result at home but at Camp Nou it will be very difficult for them to do what Messi does.”