This is a translation of which the original can be found @ sport.es.
How are you treating the London defeat, any sense of anger?
Of course! It hurts! Especially at the way we lost the match… because we did not deserve to lose as we had played our game. It was difficult for us but at the same time we’re relaxed as we know we can turn this around and pull through. It is only a one goal difference, [and] we need to score a goal. We have to be calm about it.
Besides, if the reference is [the result of] last year, you managed to score four goals in that return leg…
Yes, but it doesn’t matter how [we do it and] whether I score or not, what’s more important is we get past the qualifying round. If we get to play in the same way we did in the first half we are in with a good chance to make it through.
As a matter of fact, Pep said the team played a very good match but then a defeat is always difficult to get off your chest, right?
The truth is the result is what it is and you do get a little pissed off. What is certain is that there were moments in the first half where we played very well, moving the ball around quickly. It’s a pity we failed to get a win.
Do you still remember the move that failed in the first half where you were one-on-one with the goalkeeper? Pep already had his arms in the air in anticipation of the goal.
That was a pity as it was a clear chance. The goalkeeper held his ground until the end, I chipped it but it went out… but in truth it should have been a goal to celebrate because it was a very clear opportunity.
The coach says that without Messi they would still be a very good team, but with Messi, they hope to achieve everything.
The truth is the things Guardiola said about me, complimenting me and the other players, doesn’t surprise me anymore. He has a very close bond and a special chemistry with us.
And the drama about his renewal is over now.
Yes, I am very pleased with that. I can’t see any other outcome.
Do you expect Wenger to again describe you as a player from Playstation, as he did last year after the great showing you made in the quarter-finals in the Camp Nou?
I hope I can give another great game and get us through. It certainly is gratifying listening to distinguished football personalities such as him speaking well of me. I appreciate it a lot.
Is it true that when playing the PlayStation you always choose Barca?
In fact it’s been a long time since I last played, but yes, I tend to pick Barcelona when I play.
Who is better: The Playstation Messi or the real one?
Ha ha! They are not the same. That Playstation guy does a lot more incredible stuff.
You must know by now dedicating goals with T-shirts is not allowed?
Yes, I know that already. The coach already told me about that. I will no longer do that for anyone.
Even though in Madrid the media is trying to separate the FIFA Ballon d’Or [like it was before], Xavi and Iniesta are still your greatest admirers that not one day goes by without them complimenting you.
I have a very good bond with both of them, since from the first day we played together we share a lot. They have always spoken highly of me.
Speaking about praises, you do know Quique Sanchez Flores did go as far as calling you the ’21st century Di Stefano’ not so long ago, didn’t you?
I heard about it, [and] I can only be grateful when people who know so much about football say these things of me. To compare me with Di Stefano, who gave so much to football, and who was so influential, for me, is great. I appreciate it a lot, and I hope all the best for him with Athletic.
Is Cesc Arsenal’s midfielder?
It is obvious he is vital for them. Their game-plan depends a lot on him. All their moves go through him.
Can you see him becoming a blaugrana next season?
I hope so. In the end he will do what he wants, and what the people of Barcelona wished for. It’s not up to us but I believe his intention is to go to Barcelona because he knows there’s nothing better than being here.
Don’t you find it amusing that those people in Madrid are already talking of a crisis after [Barca’s] back-to-back winless run?
We know they are waiting for it, for us to start losing and be nervy, but we will not fall into this trap. We know what we are capable of and we’ve proved ourselves for years now.
What is the antidote to all these desperate attacks from the media cavern?
To trust in ourselves, stay together and be convinced that successes will come.
It is the same kind of story every year isn’t it, the propagation of intimidation and all this stuff, right?
Yes. And up till now it has never worked for them.
Xavi once told me that during the South African World Cup semi-final against Germany a match official came to him three minutes before the end of the match asking for his jersey. I’m sure you have a lot more similar stories or maybe even worse?
I don’t remember but a story as bizarre as that of Xavi has never happened to me.
Has a defender never asked one from you, and where you would give it to him on the condition that he doesn’t mark you tightly?
Yes, of course, but not so he didn’t tightly mark me.
You have already recorded nine ‘hat tricks’ in your career and a match where you scored four goals, precisely against Arsenal ,[and] that means you’ve brought home ten match balls. Do you have enough space for so many balls and prizes?
I kept all the balls, cups and trophies that I’ve won. In truth I think of them as souvenirs. It has accumulated but I still have space for some more.
The image of you chasing after your compatriot Kun Aguero and regaining back possession has stuck with a lot of people.
It was just one of the things that happened in the match. They hit us on the counter and he just happened to go by me, [and] it was up to me to track back just as any one of my teammates would.
Are you surprised it seems easy for David Villa to connect with you?
It’s nothing. It is true that we have a very good understanding but it’s only because I already know the characteristics of his game.
Is there anything more to this chemistry?
We know each other. I know the movements he likes to make, and he knows mine.
There is one subject that just mentioning it produces a sense of anxiety in the Barca dressing room. I’m referring to the FIFA virus. Is it true it has such an effect on the team?
This is a bit complicated as there doesn’t seem to be any easy solution for it. We are talking about the number of games and trips made which means we don’t have enough rest [in between] but we cannot complain. It is what it is so we’ll just have to accept it. All the players that play for their national team will have to try as best as they could to recover.
The problem is that no sooner are you back from a friendly with the United States less than a month later you have another one with Costa Rica, and on arriving back to Barcelona you are up against Villarreal [April 3], and if all goes well, a Champions League quarter-finals away [first-leg] match after that…
Yes, but we are not the one who sets up the calendar. We are internationals, and we owe it to our country [to be there]. Unfortunately there is little we can do, and neither can I be in two places at one time. The best I can do is try not to be too affected by it as I know my team needs me.
Have you given any thought to the Copa final, or is it still too far away?
We do have a lot of expectation for it as we want it to be something magical for everyone, but a lot remains to be done going forward. Seeing that it is a Barca – Madrid final it is going to be spectacular.
You are fortunate that you have never gone through the close scrutiny the press is giving your teammate Gerard Pique. Would you know how to react to such harassments?
The truth is no. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen to me [but] I am cool about it [as] I can still go out and live a normal life.
That reminds me, do you have time to watch TV?
Very little, but when I have time I like to see happenings in Argentina, and football.
Just out of curiosity, despite only able to watch a little TV, do you know who Belen Esteban [Spain’s TV personality] is?
Talk to me a little about a topic that I know you’re passionate and proud of, your foundation.
Well yes. It is an exciting project and one that gives me great satisfaction as I know I’m helping a lot of children be happy, and seeing to it that they know they still have a future. That alone makes it all worthwhile.