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The defender believes the importance of his Argentine team-mate cannot be underestimated

Gerard Pique says Lionel Messi is "the best in the world" and makes things easier for Barcelona, ahead of the first-leg of his side's Champions League semi-final clash with Bayern Munich.

The Argentine suffered a hamstring injury in the second-leg of the quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, and it remains unclear if he will be fit in time for Wednesday's tie.

"We’d be fools if we thought that he does not matter. He is the best in the world and he makes things easier," he told AS.

"Surely the opponents would prefer him not to play. It gets into the skin that they have to cover him and it is not pleasant, whoever denies it is lying."

The 26-year-old admits he is "excited" by the prospect of playing in the last four clash and while he was wholesome in his praise of Bayern Munich, the defender was also quick to point out the strengths of his own side.

"Bayern are a really great opponent, but nobody should forget that we are still a great team," he added.

"We are excited by this week’s game, we want to win. We play football to be involved in this kind of game.

"We have the team that we have and it is an advantage to have players like Messi, Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta. What we have to do is concentrate more.

Pique then refused to contemplate an all-Spanish final with Real Madrid - who face Borussia Dortmund in the other semi-final - insisting that concentrating on the task in hand was key.

"We have enough with Bayern. We are mistaken to think about the final. It could have happened last year and neither of us made the final."

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