Johann keeping tabs on Messi ahead of World Cup in Russia
Johann Berg Gudmundsson has been studying Argentinian forward Lionel Messi in some depth ahead of this summer's World Cup in Russia.
The Clarets winger has been tuning in to watch La Liga with Barcelona closing in on another title having opened up an 11 point advantage over Atletico Madrid.
Messi has been instrumental in that charge, scoring 25 times and adding 12 assists while also boasting an 80% pass success rate.
And the 30-year-old has contributed to another eight goals in the Champions League to help them to the quarter-final stages where they’ll go up against Roma.
The five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner was rested as a precaution when La Albiceleste faced Italy at the Etihad Stadium on Friday evening but he will most certainly be in the XI when they take on Iceland in their Group D opener at Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow on June 16th.
“I watch quite a bit of football so obviously I see him in the Spanish league and in the Champions League,” he said.
“The stuff he does is unheard of, it’s something else. He and Ronaldo are probably not playing in the same squad because they’d just score every game.
“I’m not sure how they do it. I’ve faced Ronaldo before, he’s a decent player as well, and then Messi is probably just another level above him.
“It’s going to be tough but that’s the nice thing about football - you get to play against good players.”
Gudmundsson admits that the butterflies haven’t kicked in just yet, despite this being his first ever experience of the tournament, with focus centred on Burnley’s bid to land a place in the Europa League next term.
He said: “I’m trying not to think about it too much. I’m concentrating on finishing off the season with Burnley.
“I’m going in to every game with that mentality because I want to win every game. I don’t want to think about the World Cup too much because that’s something that I can think about after the season ends.”
The former Charlton Athletic man, who featured in several European campaigns for AZ Alkmaar during his time in Holland, says that he will take inspiration from the club’s domestic achievements when tackling some of the best teams on the international stage.
With games against in-form Nigeria and Croatia also on the agenda, Gudmundsson said: “I don’t really mind it because it’s nice to surprise people.
“With Iceland nobody expected us to knock England out. There’s always pressure in football but sometimes you go in to games where you’re not expected to do a lot so it brings more freedom. It’s nice to be the underdog and people like the underdogs.”
“That’s what we do when we’re back with Iceland. Even though we play against the big teams we’re not scared of them.
We know we play the best football against the big teams. There are similarities with Burnley when you look at the performance against Manchester United and see how good it was.
“There was Spurs and Liverpool away as well; big clubs. They are tough teams and we’ll definitely take those examples in to the World Cup.”