Barcelona star Lionel Messi has played down the significance of Jose Mourinho's influence in the upcoming Clasico with Real Madrid, describing the coach as someone who just "does his job."
The 49-year-old Mourinho has arguably intensified relations between the two clubs since being named as Manuel Pellegrini's successor in the Blancos' dugout two years ago, with recent derby encounters being embroiled in controversy. Messi insists that the Portuguese manager is only doing what is asked of him, though, while also praising Madrid counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo and teammate David Villa, contradicting recent media reports that the duo had fallen out.
"[Mourinho is] a good coach who does his job. So is Cristiano Ronaldo, [who is] a great player," Messi told todo-barcelona.net. "Villa is also a great guy that nobody can be wrong about."
Messi was then asked about the impact Tito Vilanova has made on the Catalan giants in comparison to that of Pep Guardiola, and he was adamant that the former assistant would only preserve his predecessor's legacy at Camp Nou.
"[With Tito], you will see the same Barcelona from past seasons," he added. "Our style of play will not change because Tito thinks like Pep in this regard. There is no change. Pep left a mark on the history of football. He gave me the bonus of playing in different positions on the field and that's something he did with the team. He changed and reinforced the philosophy of playing good football, but with the perfect balance in defence and attack."
Follow GOAL.COM on