Madrid: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova on Tuesday said the secret of the team's Argentine star Lionel Messi's success was that he still plays as if he was in the youth team.
"Leo's greatest quality is that he still plays like he did in the juniors. That's the difference and also the challenge that he's given himself," said Vilanova after 25-year-old Messi scored his 86th goal of 2012 on Sunday, setting a new record.
Vilanova, who also coached the player in the Catalan giants' youth set-up, added: "He was already very good at the time and you don't need to be a coach to say that. I relish the fact that I saw him play when he was 15 and I'm still watching him now."
Barcelona head to second-tier Cordoba on Wednesday for the quarter-final of the King's Cup but Vilanova said the tie could still be difficult, despite expectations of an easy win for the cup holders.
"I would have preferred a first division side. They (Cordoba) are going to play the match of their lives as if they're playing in the Champions League," he added.