Lionel Messi was on top of the world last week following his masterclass against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Camp Nou.
Barcelona’s legendary No. 10 scored two goals - including one of the best free-kicks of his career to date - to leave Liverpool with a mountain to climb back at Anfield and add further weight to the argument that he’s the greatest player of all time.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s side triumphantly scaled that particular mountain on Tuesday evening, beating their revered Catalan opponents 4-0 to book their place in next month’s Champions League final.
Barça’s players were left shell-shocked at the full-time whistle. There’s now talk that Ernesto Valverde will probably lose his job as the team’s head coach.
For the second time in two seasons, Valverde’s men have been eliminated from the Champions League after throwing away a significant first-leg advantage.
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Barcelona’s latest capitulation may also harm Messi’s chances of winning a record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or award.
He looked certain to win the prestigious individual accolade this year following the first leg, but his odds have drifted slightly to 1/2 on following Tuesday’s match. Virgil van Dijk (7/4) is now his closest challenger.
Messi wasn’t at his world-class best at Anfield but he was still Barça’s standout performer.
L’Equipe, who are notoriously strict with their player ratings, handed the 31-year-old a 6/10 rating for setting up several chances for his teammates.
Was Messi let down by his teammates?
Brazilian Ronaldo certainly doesn’t think so. He told reporters this week: "The other day I heard that when they lose, it's because of Valverde, Coutinho... but not Messi.
"And when they win, Barcelona win because of Messi. It's a tremendous lack of respect to all the players and the coaching staff."
However, a video has emerged showing the times Messi has been let down by his teammates in the Champions League in recent years.
Watch it here...
We see Messi laying the ball on a plate for various Barcelona players in several knockout matches - against Juventus, AS Roma and Liverpool - and then watching on as the chances are all wasted.
The worst moment is surely Ousmane Dembele’s opportunity to kill the Liverpool tie towards the end of the video.
Messi had the chance to complete his hat-trick but, instead, picked out the unmarked Dembele, whose scuffed shot was comfortably gathered by Alisson Becker.
Had that gone in, it surely would have been game over for the Reds and Barcelona would now be facing Tottenham in the Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Had Messi’s teammates been more clinical in front of goal in knockout games, he might have a few more Champions League winners’ medals in his collection.News Now - Sport News