The Atletico boss is under no illusions that the Argentina international is the world’s best player after his recent one-man rescue job
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Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes Barcelona star Lionel Messi proved to any doubters that he is the world’s best player by securing Argentina’s place at the World Cup with a marvellous hat-trick.
Atletico 15/8 to beat Barca
Argentina went into their final World Cup qualifier staring elimination in the face, but Messi stepped up when they needed him most and inspired a 3-1 win in Ecuador.
The Barcelona forward scored all three goals in an unstoppable display to rescue La Albiceleste, meaning Messi goes into Saturday’s meeting with Simeone’s Atletico in blistering form.
And Simeone, who insists he always had faith in Argentina, believes that such a performance is what sets Messi apart from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, making him the best in the world.
“Of course I saw the match [Argentina],” he told reporters. “And I was really calm because I knew the match would come to our side, even if they didn’t get a great start.
“They never lost focus on the match and Messi did what every single Argentinian wanted and asked for.
“He showed to those that don’t believe that he’s the best player in the world. It’s obvious.”
Simeone’s Atletico Madrid take on Messi’s Barcelona on Saturday evening in the first meeting between the two at Wanda Metropolitano.