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Messi: Friendship key to MSN brilliance

Lionel Messi insists that his friendship with Neymar and Luis Suarez is essential to Barcelona's brilliant attacking football.

The 'MSN' combined in ruthless fashion to give the Champions League holders the lead in the last-16 first leg against Arsenal, with Messi finishing off a counter-attack in which all three forwards combined.

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo rubbished the notion that enjoying a strong social life with team-mates was key to improving performances on the pitch, yet Messi maintains the understanding between Barca's attackers is at the heart of their relentless form.

"It was a very fast break which is how we like to play – with open space – and luckily we were able to do that," Messi, who later scored a penalty to secure a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium, told

"It's wonderful playing with them. We get along really well on and off the pitch. We really are friends and that is really important to enable us to play this kind of football."

Barca's win extended their record run of unbeaten matches to 33.