News ID: 200515
Published: 0247 GMT September 13, 2017

Valverde: I am lucky enough to have Messi on my side

Valverde: I am lucky enough to have Messi on my side
Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Barca’s first goal in the 3-0 beating of Juventus in UEFA Champions League in Camp Nou, Barcelona, on September 12, 2017.
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Ernesto Valverde was thankful to finally be able to enjoy having Lionel Messi on his side after spending years suffering at the hands of Barcelona's Argentine star.

Messi scored twice on Tuesday as Barca began its Champions League campaign with an emphatic 3-0 win against last season's runner-up, Juventus, which eliminated the Catalan side in the last eight on its way to the final, ESPN reported.

Ivan Rakitic scored the other goal, which was created by Messi, as former Athletic Bilbao coach Valverde saw his new side extend its winning streak to four games in all competitions.

"I have suffered against Messi many times; now I am lucky enough to have him on my team," said a smiling Valverde in his postgame news conference.

"When he has the ball you always believe that anything can happen – good things for us. It's not just about his goals, either, but his all-round involvement."

Messi's two strikes against Juve took his tally to eight for the season, with seven of them coming in his last three outings, where he's played in a more central position.

Having spent the majority of Luis Enrique's three years at the club, it represents a change for the 30-year-old, who looks to be enjoying his new role.

"You can put Messi in any position and he can score goals," added Valverde, downplaying his decision to tinker with the forward's positioning.

"His quality is always the same wherever he is. It doesn't matter if he's on the wing or in the middle, he's always connected to the play."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, despite acknowledging the threat of Messi, who scored his first goals against Gianluigi Buffon at the fourth time of asking, preferred to focus on his own team's shortcomings.

"We were punished for the first error, 30 seconds from half-time, when we didn't close Messi down or foul him," he said. "If you leave Messi space to run in, he's going to score." Allegri said after the game.

   
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