Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic lauded his superstar teammate Lionel Messi following his spectacular hat-trick during the club's opening 4-0 Champions League victory over PSV on Tuesday, revealing he has got used to preparing to celebrate whenever the Argentine steps up to take a free-kick.
The Barcelona skipper lit up Camp Nou with a trademark free kick in the top bin before adding another two to secure his 48th career three goal haul. However, Rakitic is eager to see the Argentina international reach even greater heights to help guide the club to European glory.
"He has an incredible left foot. I hope he goes on like this forever and scores many more goals," the midfielder told reporters after the game, via Sport.
"A lot of the time when he takes the free-kicks you go directly to the place where you’re going to celebrate them!"
Despite their recent domestic success, Barcelona have been forced to watch on as their fierce rivals Real Madrid secured three consecutive European Cups off the back of the Blaugrana's last triumph in season 2014/15.
And Rakitic is aware of the challenges that await in the competition as he acknowledged the need for his side to keep improving on their win over PSV if they are to come out victorious in the Spanish capital come May.
He added: "It's not easy. This is the Champions League and we're playing our first game against a team that's started well in their league, it was a hard game.
"There was a lot to enjoy [about the performance] but there are points we have to improve and we have to keep on working.
"You can always improve, but things are just getting started. In every game, we're improving. We spoke and we prepared the game before, but we're still not 100 percent. We keep on working.
24 - Barcelona have won 24 of their last 26 Champions League games at the Camp Nou (W24 D2 L0), with their last defeat there dating back to May 2013 against Bayern Munich (0-3). Comfortable. pic.twitter.com/OPdhLCK3bh— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 18, 2018
"The Champions League has something special about it and we know that we've not been at our best in recent years. We are motivated, but the same as in the league and the cup. Hopefully it's a year with a lot of titles."