MADRID - The anticipation surrounding Lionel Messi is building as Barcelona play Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium tomorrow in a match that could go a long way towards deciding which team wins the Spanish league title.
Messi scored four goals on Tuesday to lead defending Champions League winners Barcelona to a 4-1 win over Arsenal and into the semifinals.
His sublime performance has instilled concern in Madrid over how to stop the Argentinian forward, who has scored 39 goals in all competitions to surpass his total last season.
"I don't talk about myself. Ever," Messi was quoted as saying in yesterday's ElMundo newspaper.
"I don't like it. All I want to do is play football and do the things well. The truth is for me, it's a great honour that all of these things are being talked about. I don't know what you would call the moment I'm in right now but it's definitely a good one."
Madrid and defending champions Barcelona have 77 points at the top of the standings. Madrid, who won nothing last year, lead on goal difference with eight rounds left. Valencia, who are third with 56 points, take on Mallorca.
"Real Madrid have invested a lot of money to form a great team," Messi said.
"But in the end it's the players not the money which plays.
"It's a team filled with great players and any one of them can influence the match."
Kaká and Karim Benzema might not play due to groin strains, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo to carry the hopes of Real.
"We have Cristiano, one of the best at deciding a game and we have a revelation (in the form of striker Gonzalo) Higuain," Madrid midfielder Guti said. "Barca also have to worry about us."- Sapa-AP