After Barcelona lost out to Real Madrid in the race for the La Liga title, a furious Lionel Messi warned his teammates that Napoli would eliminate them from the Champions League unless things changed.
The legendary Argentina forward voiced his frustrations following a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Osasuna last month.
Barcelona drew 1-1 in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg tie against Napoli back in February and knew the second leg at Camp Nou would be difficult.
However, Quique Setien’s side are through to the quarter-finals after getting the job done on Saturday night.
The Catalan giants sealed a 3-1 victory over their Italian counterparts thanks to goals from Clement Lenglet, Messi and Luis Suarez.
Lorenzo Insigne pulled a goal back for Napoli on the stroke of half-time but Barcelona stood firm in the second 45 minutes to advance 4-2 on aggregate.
Messi produced a typically brilliant performance. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s solo goal in the 23rd minute was a moment of individual magic.
He also won the penalty which led to Barcelona’s third goal of the evening.
As Kalidou Koulibaly went to clear the ball, the highly-rated Senegalese defender ended up inadvertently taking out Messi, who got his left foot to the ball first.
Messi was down for several minutes afterwards, while the Video Assistant Referee reviewed the incident for much longer than was necessary.
When the penalty was finally taken, Messi appeared to be so confident Suarez would score that knelt down and tied his shoelaces.
Even as Suarez struck the ball past David Ospina and ran off celebrating, the world-class forward was still tying his laces.
Eventually, he got to his feet and joined in with the celebrations while hobbling slightly.
Watch the footage here…
That’s peak Barcelona swag, right there.
Messi has also been praised for handing the penalty to Suarez, rather than opting to take it himself.
Perhaps he was in a bit too much discomfort to take it after Koulibaly’s challenge, or maybe he really did just want his close friend to get himself on the scoresheet.
Speaking after the match, Setien was quoted saying by The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan: “Leo got a very hard bang, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
Messi played the full 90 minutes against Napoli and will now rest ahead of next Friday’s Champions League quarter-final clash against Bayern Munich in Lisbon.
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