The Barcelona coach insists that the Argentina international is raring to go ahead of Champions League clash with Benfica, with his sights set on Gerd Muller's record
The match could see Messi surpass Gerd Muller's record for goalscoring in a calendar year (85) after he took his tally to 84 strikes for club and country in 2012 in the 5-1 win against Athletic Bilbao, and Vilanova has explained that the Argentina captain is raring to go.
"We have to be as natural about this as possible. Messi has the chance to beat the record, but it will be more difficult if we’re all focused on him. However, I think he’s used to the pressure," Vilanova stated at a press conference.
"Leo rested last week against Alaves in the Copa del Rey but he always wants to play, and where better than in this environment.
"It’s a Champions League match and he’s excited to play. If he’s on the pitch, it’ll make us stronger. I'm excited for him to play and for us it is always better."
Wednesday's encounter is scheduled to kick off at 19.45GMT at Camp Nou, with Benfica needing to equal or better the result of Celtic in their clash with Spartak Moscow to finish second in Group G.