Lionel Messi has said that many people are hoping that Barcelona crash out of the Champions League next week so they can call an end to the Catalans' amazing run of success in recent years.
Barça face a huge task to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against AC Milan at the Camp Nou on Tuesday but Messi said he was hoping that the occasion would lift them out of their recent slump.
"There are a lot of people that are waiting for us to lose so that, like they did last season, they can say this is the end for this Barcelona," he was quoted as saying by ESPN Deportes. "It is time to turn around this situation. It all began in Milan and the return could be the game where we lift ourselves."
It is not just in Europe that Barcelona have struggled of late, though, as back-to-back defeats to Real Madrid have seen them eliminated from the Copa del Rey and their lead at the top of La Liga cut to 11 points. But Messi said both he and his teammates were accustomed to the pressures that come with playing and did not see the need for any sweeping changes in the playing squad.
"This club is like this. When you lose two games it is a disaster, when you win two it is normal," he added. "The people in the dressing room have known this club since they were very young and to talk about buying replacements is crazy. The majority of the players are still young."
Messi will also be heavily involved when Argentina get their FIFA World Cup qualification campaign back underway in two weeks' time and the 25-year-old is hoping to take another significant step to securing La Albiceleste's place in the finals. Argentina currently sit atop South American qualifying and host Venezuela at home on 22 March before facing Bolivia at altitude in La Paz four days later.
"First of all we need to think about the game against Venezuela. It is always important to win the home games and then we will go to Bolivia to try and to do the same there," he added. "We'll see how it goes but it would be a big step towards being in a more comfortable position if we could win these two games."