Messi has come under a lot of criticism for his dropped level of performances but the Valencia manager believes that the Argentina captain is as good as ever.
Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, had indifferent last couple of weeks on the pitch. The Rosario-born attacker missed from the penalty spot against Valencia at the Mestalla in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey first leg.
Messi’s recent performances have been below his established high standards, and the Spanish media believes that the talismanic forward is exhausted and needs rest following Barcelona’s hectic schedule.
However, Valencia coach, Unai Emery, believes otherwise and rubbished claims that the Argentine hit-man has underperformed for Barcelona in recent weeks.
"He is the best player in the world, I do not believe he is in a bad run of form," Emery told reporters at a press conference ahead of Valencia’s match against Barcelona.
The 40-year-old tactician asked Los Che players to be focused for the Copa del Rey return leg at the Camp Nou.
Emery stated that they have the chance to book a place in the competition’s final and have to beat their opponents. Valencia go into the second leg after conceding a crucial away goal in the first leg.
"This match symbolizes opportunity and hope for Valencia and we have the responsibility to work hard for those things," he said.
Regarding their preparations for the match, the manager opined that they have based their strategy to nullify Barcelona’s game plan and will look forward to exploiting their weaknesses.
"Our preparation for this match is based on nullifying everything we know about Barca and take full advantage of our virtues.
"Barca always prepare for their matches against us well. Little details can make a big difference in the final score."
Los Che have a stiff task on their hands as they travel to Catalonia after a less than impressive start to the new year. They have failed to add a single league win to their tally, drawing 4 and losing 1 in the process.
As a result, Valencia’s third place in Spanish top-flight points table has come under scrutiny, with Atletico Madrid, Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao ready to challenge them.