Messi: Classy Catalans deserve to win in Rome

Barcelona deserve to win the Champions League because of the stylish football they play, forward Lionel Messi said on Thursday.

"I know that many people who are not Barca fans admire the club for its brand of football," Messi told a news conference at the club's Nou Camp stadium ahead of Wednesday's final against Manchester United in Rome.

"We deserve the title for the football we have played throughout the year," he added. "We deserve this reward."

The 21-year-old Argentina international, who was injured and unable to play in Barca's victory over Arsenal in the 2006 final in Paris, said Wednesday's match was the most important of his life.

"We know that we are close to making history," he said, referring to Barca's bid to become the first Spanish club to win the league, domestic cup and European title in one season.

The key to beating United would be for Barca to play their game of keeping possession in the middle and creating chances for forwards Samuel Eto'o, Messi and Thierry Henry, if the France international is fit, he added.

"It's a final so you can't really say who the favourite is. We are talking about two great teams with great players. They are defending their title so if I had to pick one it's them."

Messi said he did not expect United to play as defensively as Chelsea in their two-legged semi-final against Barca, which the Catalans won on the away goals rule after the tie ended 1-1.

"Hopefully they (United) are going to play football and it's going to be a much more open final, for the sake of football and the fans," he said.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola, speaking at a later news conference, said the club would not know until Monday or Tuesday whether Henry, who has a knee problem, and Andres Iniesta, who is suffering from a thigh strain, would be fit for the final.

He joked that if Barca won the match, he would end his career and retire.

"As a coach I think either we have ambition or we have no chance of winning," he said.

"We have analysed it and are ready and we want to show the world what we are capable of."

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