Barcelona & 'genius' Messi favourites for Champions League glory - Pochettino

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The Argentine manager has showered praise on his countryman, labelling him the greatest football player on the planet

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has aired his belief that Barcelona are favourites to win the Champions League in large part due to the Catalan side having the "best in the world" in Lionel Messi.

Messi has been in commanding form of late, registering two goals and two assists in Barca's 5-1 victory over Lyon in Europe before bagging a sublime hat-trick in the club's most recent Liga outing at Real Betis.

Some huge clubs have made it to the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition, including Manchester City, a Cristiano Ronaldo-led Juventus and last year's finalists Liverpool, but Pochettino believes his countryman gives the Blaugrana a special edge.

“If there's a favourite to win the Champions League, it's Barcelona,” the Spurs boss told reporters at the Mediterranean International Cup.

“They have players at a very high level, like Leo Messi, who is a genius and the best in the world.

“Barcelona have excellent, extraordinary footballers, but they also have someone in Messi who is a genius, someone even more different, extraordinary and unique.

“Leo does things that nobody expects, but what continues to surprise me about him is his consistency. He's being doing it with regularity, every three or four days, for the last 11 or 12 years.”

While Barca will be favourites to oust quarter-final opponents Manchester United from the competition, Tottenham have a big tie of their own to navigate as Pep Guardiola's City lie in wait.

The Argentine, however, feels that – all going well – playing in Tottenham's new stadium should give them an additional boost against the Premier League champions.

“Any of the four English teams would have preferred not to face another Premier League side, but the draw is what it is,” Pochettino said.

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“City are a team with an obligation to win, not just since Pep arrived but also with [Roberto] Mancini and [Manuel] Pellegrini.

“But we are going to play against them in our new stadium and they will be up against 62,000 people who will transmit a special energy [to our players].”

Tottenham first host City on April 9 before the return leg at the Etihad Stadium eight days later.

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