Vilanova: Messi makes the difference
Sunday, 29 July 2012 16:15 GMT
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova hailed the impact of Lionel Messi in his first game of pre-season after the Catalans ran out 8-0 winners over Raja Casablanca in Tangier.
The Argentinian scored a first-half hat-trick and combined to set up Alexis Sanchez twice as Barça raced into a 5-0 lead at the break.
Dani Alves then added a sixth from the penalty spot before Vilanova withdrew his stars for a host of youngsters and was rewarded with further goals from Sergi Gomez and Gerard Deulofeu.
Vilanova told the club's website: "When you have the world's best player, who has this capacity to score goals, he usually makes the difference. He proved it once again.
"We were warned of Raja's quality after watching their match against Athletic Bilbao, but we were ready when we came into the match. The young players also always deliver and they played at a very high level."
One man who did not feature was David Villa as he continues his recovery from a broken fibia suffered in December 2011, but Vilanova believes he is making progress.
"We're talking about a serious and long injury," he added. "When he's ready to play, we'll welcome him with open arms. He's made a lot of progress in the last month."
Messi, meanwhile, has said that he feels much fresher at this stage of pre-season than he has for a few years. He told El Mundo Deportivo: "I haven't been able to do a good pre-season for a long time because I always arrived late. It has been very good to have such a long rest."
"The way of training has continued in the same way and we are working with the same people so we haven't noted any changes," the Argentinian added.
"We are in pre-season and so you notice the tiredness. They kept the ball well and made us run a lot but we will get better with every game. We are training very hard and we have to continue like that to arrive in the best shape possible for the important matches."