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AS Roma coach Rudi Garcia: "There's no anti-Messi plan, he's the best in the world"

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Barcelona will start their new Champions League campaign on Wednesday, at Stadio Olimpico against Italian giants AS Roma. Their biggest star, Lionel Messi, is certain to get plenty of attention not only from spectators and cameras, but also from the opponents, who will do their best to try and stop the Argentine genius.

However, it seems like the Giallorossi will not attempt any special plan to stop Barça's number 10. Instead, they'll look to defend well and play the game looking for a win. That's according to Roma coach Rudi García, who spoke to the media after his team's final training session ahead of the match. Here's a few highlights:

Do you think Barcelona are as strong as they were last season and would you rather have avoided them at this stage?
"We know Barcelona are a top side and the reigning European champions. They've won their first three league matches and there's no need to repeat all the praise they've been given. We know all about them. If they're not the best in the world, they're certainly up there. We'll play with humility tomorrow but also ambition. We want to qualify for the next round and to do so we'll need to perform as well as we can in all six games in order to pick up points."

What formation will you go with? Will you stick to 4-3-3 despite Neymar, Suarez and Messi?
"If I tell you, it will no longer be a surprise. The players are mentally ready and we have a quality squad. Obviously we have all the respect and humility we need when faced with a team like Barcelona. The players are ready to play in more than one system. We don't just have one plan, we have two. The aim is still the same, to get a result."

Give us your views on Salah?
"Salah is a great player. He's not been with us for very long but he's learning the team's style all the time, just as his team-mates are getting to know how he plays. He's quick and technical. They're important attributes to make the difference in modern football."

How much will you miss a player like Pjanic tomorrow?
"I spoke about this last week. I've got a big squad and I don't look at absentees before a game. I have to make do with the players available, although during the week I spend a lot of time with those missing through injury. There's no point moaning when they can't play, we have to focus on the players we have available and get the best out of them."

Have you come up with a plan to stop Messi? How would you describe the Argentine as a footballer?
"There's no anti-Messi plan, just as there isn't one to stop Suarez or Iniesta. You deal with that threat - as Daniele De Rossi has already said - as a team, both offensively and defensively. We don't plan on defending all game. We know there will be times when we have to dig in but we also have to use the ball well to give the opposition a problem. We're running out of superlatives to describe Messi. He's one of - if not - the best in the world."

Do you agree that Barcelona play more on the break than they did last season?
"Looking at the statistics, they're not only good on the counter. They're a team that keep the ball and they have lots of pace up top to strike at the right time, making the most of quick breaks. We have to come out well when we have the chance to. As I've said, the aim is to get a result based on the quality of our players, thanks to a good team approach in both phases of the game. We won't just let Barcelona play football. There will obviously be times when we have to however. We need to counteract their pressing, a tactic they adopt when they lose possession and want to win it back immediately. If we manage to do that, we can start thinking positively."

Manolas has played alongside three center back partners in as many games. How are Rudiger and Castan?
"Rudiger was hurt when he signed, he needed to recover and regain full fitness, which is what he's currently doing. I gave him a lot of playing time at Frosinone. As for Castan, let's not forget he was out for a year, he's getting there and we made the most of the international break to get him working. He needs training sessions and playing time. He's not yet 100% but he's so motivated. He's an excellent player and a great man. I have to manage him as best I can and he's training individually at the moment both for his own good and the benefit of the team. Either way, we're relaxed with regards to our backline because De Rossi can do a really good job in there, as he showed against Juventus."


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