Messi: Barcelona shouldn’t give up hope
No team has ever advanced after losing the first leg of a
European Cup tie by four goals.
To Lionel Messi, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
After he and Barcelona were mauled 4-0 at Bayern Munich in the
Champions League semifinals on Tuesday, Messi said they must not
give up hope for the return leg at the Camp Nou next week.
That, he said, will be ”a very tough match” given the
seemingly insurmountable four-goal difference, but ”you have to go
for it and try to achieve it. They are very good, but we will try
Nobody in a Barcelona jersey was less impressive than Messi, the
spearhead who didn’t fire a shot at goal and was practically
invisible at Bayern. He was in doubt to play until hours before the
match, when he was medically cleared following a lingering right
hamstring injury since April 2.
”I hadn’t played for a while, but I felt good,” Messi
”I couldn’t do much, facing that kind of result. It was a
Football commentator Josep Maria Minguella said on Spanish radio
Cadena Cope that Messi’s father, Jorge, told him on Tuesday that
his son was not fit. ”Messi’s father told me at lunch that he was
not ready to play,” Minguella said.
Regardless, Barcelona and its fans are counting on Messi to save
them again, as he did in the two previous rounds.
In the last 16, Barcelona overcame a two-goal deficit against AC
Milan when Messi scored a pair in a 4-0 win at home, and in the
quarterfinals against Paris Saint-Germain, he went on as a
second-half substitute and set up the 1-1 equalizer that allowed
Barcelona to advance on away goals.
Although assistant coach Jordi Roura complained that two Bayern
goals benefited from refereeing decisions, without mentioning two
occasions when Barcelona players appeared to handle the ball in the
area and weren’t penalized, he conceded, ”Bayern were superior and
I congratulate them.”
Barcelona remained true to style and held 63 percent of the
possession, but a muscular Bayern was able to pressure the midfield
and dominate with set-pieces. The German side took 11 corners to
Barcelona’s four and had nine attempts on target to Barcelona’s
Coach Tito Vilanova was seen pacing the edge of the field,
looking ashen, gaunt and at a loss as to what tactics to employ. He
did not deploy Cesc Fabregas, who has considerable experience in
organizing defenses against corners.
Dani Alves said Bayern made things very difficult by applying
pressure quickly on the midfield. ”They pressurized with up to
four players, so it became very difficult to come out with the ball
under control,” Alves said.
The defeat was Barcelona’s worst in European competition in 19
years, since Fabio Capello’s AC Milan trounced Johan Cruyff’s
”Dream Team” 4-0 in the Champions League final at the Athens
Olympic Stadium in 1994.
”When you come up against a rival that competes better than you
and has things you don’t, you have to take your hat off,” Alves