Messi Defends Bayern Selection
Barcelona star Lionel Messi has refused to blame his fitness for a lacklustre performance in his side’s 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the 1st leg of their Champions League semi-final.
The Argentine player of the year has been out of action for three weeks with a hamstring injury and was a shadow of his former self as the Catalan giants crumbled to a devastating defeat that leaves their tournament dreams for this year in pieces.
The loss also represented their heaviest defeat in European competition and Messi conceded that the odds are stacked against them turning the tie around at the Camp Nou next week.
“It’s 4-0 and it will be difficult because they are a great team,” Messi told reporters.
“They were a lot stronger than us – physically superior in fact. It’s a disgrace what happened, but we have to go on. We’ll try to score at home and do our best. We must go on. Now we must win la Liga soon.” He added.
Although there were furious protests from the visitors when referee Robert Kispal failed to see Thomas Mueller’s obvious body-check on Jordi Alba in the lead up to Arjen Robben’s decisive third goal, Spanish stopper Gerard Pique was quick to acknowledge that Barca were well beaten.
“They thrashed us,” admitted the centre-back. “The referee didn’t have an influence.”
“It is almost impossible for us, but we have to show some face in the return-leg. They were quicker, stronger and better.”
Bayern, who are bidding to become the first German team to win a sparkling treble of European, league and cup titles, were understandably jubilant after finding themselves within touching distance of the Wembley final on May 25th.
“That’s crazy, hard to believe,” said Robben. “They’ve dominated Europe in the last few years and then we go and win 4-0. The key was we fought and defended together.”
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In the other semi-final, it is Spain vs Germany once again as 9-times winners Real Madrid bid for their place in the final when they face last year’s German champions Borussia Dortmund, however they will also have to come from behind, after a 4-1 defeat at Signal Iduna Park on the 24th of April.
GIF OF THE DAY – 2
Messi chips the keeper for his 4th.
Messi Dazzles as Valencia Frazzle
Lionel Messi produced another dazzling display as Barcelona came from behind to defeat Valencia, while Athletic Bilbao beat Malaga and Atletico Madrid were held by Sporting Gijon.
Messi was in irresistible form with four goals for Barcelona in their 5-1 victory over third-placed Valencia.
Valencia silenced the Camp Nou faithful by taking the lead inside ten minutes, with Pablo Piatti taking advantage of uncertainty in the Barca defence to provide the finish to Sofiane Feghouli’s right-wing cross.
Messi drew Barca level midway through the first half when he reacted quickly to a loose ball to fire a shot underneath goalkeeper Diego Alves from a tight angle.
The Argentine superstar showed his sharpness again six minutes later to put Barcelona in front as he scooped the ball into the roof of the net from close range after Alves had kept out his initial effort.
A series of fine saves from Alves, as well as the woodwork, kept Valencia in with a chance until Messi completed his hat-trick in the 76th minute with a neat finish on the rebound after Cristian Tello had been denies.
There was still time for Messi to race clear of the visiting defence and chip home for a fourth, and then for Xavi to dink in a fifth, to leave Barca ten points behind fierce rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table.
Picture Of The Day – 2
Messi Celebrates his hat-trick with Tello (before going on to score a 4th and assist Xavi).