Lionel Messi has stoked the fire between Barcelona and Real Madrid by admitting he and his team-mates would be "hugely pleased" to see their rivals lose the Champions League final.
Real Madrid will play Atletico Madrid at the San Siro later this month in a repeat of the 2014 final, which Los Blancos won 4-1. However, the game was much closer than the scoreline suggests.
Atletico were just minutes away from winning 1-0 before Sergio Ramos headed home a late equaliser (93rd minute). It was only in extra time that Real Madrid ran away to claim La Decima.
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Diego Simeone's men had to beat Barcelona, the current holders, en route to the final but Messi would be more than happy to see their conquerors lift the famous trophy this time around.
But it is not because Messi is a closet Atletico fan, oh no. He simply wants Atletico to win because that would, of course, mean that Real Madrid lose. And it would appear that nothing makes Messi happier than seeing that happen.
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"It would hugely please Barcelona if Atletico beat them in the Champions League final"
A closet Atletico fan
"It is clear that the people at Barcelona do not want Real Madrid to win anything," Messi told ESPN.
"It would hugely please Barcelona if Atletico beat them in the Champions League final.
"What Atletico Madrid have done is great, it is not easy to beat them. They are a very tough opponent and [Diego] Simeone deserves credit for their performances."
La Liga title
Messi would do well to put his rivalry with Real Madrid to one side for the next week. Zinedine Zidane's men have taken Barcelona all the way in the race for the La Liga title and sit just one point behind them with one game left.
Barcelona face Granada away, which should be a routine victory, but nerves get the better of everyone from time to time. Should they slip up, you can bet your mortgage that Real Madrid will beat Deportivo and leapfrog them to win the title.
"We were much better than Atletico in the first half and could have decided the tie there"
Messi admits that he still feels disappointed about Barcelona's Champions League exit, but is hoping to make things right by first sealing La Liga and then winning the Copa del Rey.
"The Champions League elimination was a major blow. We were much better than Atletico in the first half and could have decided the tie there. It was then very complicated in the return at the Vicente Calderon," he added.
"It would be great if we can end the season by winning the Liga title and the Copa del Rey. We realise it will not be easy, though. We have two finals left, one in La Liga and one in the Copa.
"We spilled a lot of points in La Liga, but recovered just in time. We still have everything in our own hands."
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