Lionel Messi ‘Didn’t Turn Up’ as Barcelona Exit Prompts Ernesto Valverde Apology

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Lionel Messi has been criticised in the wake of Barcelona’s shock 3-0 defeat at the hands of Roma on Tuesday, while Barca manager Ernesto Valverde and president Josep Maria Bartomeu have apologised to supporters.
The Giallorossi produced an outstanding performance at the Stadio Olimpico to overturn a 4-1 deficit from the first leg, ensuring the Blaugrana’s exit at the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League for the third season running.
Barca’s players have come in for a great deal of criticism for their showing in Rome, and Messi is no exception.
AS‘ Juan Jimenez described the Argentinian as being “anonymous” and said he had “gone out there to watch the time go by,” concluding that he “simply didn’t turn up.”

Messi and Luis Suarez were also singled out by BT Sport pundit Michael Owen, who believed they did not do enough to help out defensively.

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty Images
“I’m not sure you can not concede when you’ve got two strikers that don’t put anything into defending,” he said, per MailOnline’s Robert Summerscales. “They are basically defending with eight outfield players against 11, and I’m not sure you can do that at the highest level.”
Neither of the pair had a night to remember in a match in which a single Barcelona goal would have all-but guaranteed their progression, and with Radja Nainggolan, Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman often overwhelming the visitors’ midfield, the extra bodies could have lightened their team-mates’ load.
Jimenez’s criticism of Messi is perhaps a little unfair, though, as he was involved throughout—according to Summerscales he had 61 touches of the ball, just six fewer than the commanding De Rossi managed, per Squawka Football—and frequently had to drop deeper to create for the team with Andres Iniesta struggling to do so himself.
Grup 14’s Rafael Hernandez believes the Argentinian was let down by his team-mates, a sentiment echoed by ESPN FC’s Dermot Corrigan:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117 The only thing holding back Lionel Messi is Barcelona. Unbelievable.
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan Point about Messi not scoring whenever Barca go out of CL not that he never does it on big occasion – more that if he doesnt step up then nobody else has.
Barcelona’s decline in recent years has often been masked by their impressive ability to continue to pick up silverware each season—something Messi should take plenty of credit for—but they’re perhaps no longer the force they once were on the pitch and rely too heavily on their talisman.

Their failure to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League since their win in 2015 demonstrates as much, and prompted apologies from both Bartomeu and Valverde.
Per Sport‘s Victor Vallespir, the former said it was a “sad day” for the club and added: “The message is that we’re sorry for all Barca fans around the world.”
According to Ivan San Antonio of the same outlet, Valverde had a similar message: “We’re sorry for them, for the disappointment.”
The coach also lay the failure at his own feet: “Absolutely. The coach is the one who has to take responsibility. [The coach] chooses the team, the changes, he plans the game, the season. So I am absolutely responsible for everything.”
ESPN’s David Cartlidge also believed Valverde made mistakes in his approach:
David Cartlidge @davidjaca Think Valverde is a magnificent coach and sacking him would be absurd, but he’s got caught in the headlights tonight. Had a panic. Or as it is sometimes known, an Emery, and resorted to negativity/caution over taking initiative.
He has done an excellent job overall at the Camp Nou; his side—despite being far from a vintage outfit—are in the Copa del Rey final and are seven matches away from going the season unbeaten in La Liga, which they’re set to win comfortably.
His lack of top-level experience showed on Tuesday, though, and the team’s European hopes will therefore have to be put on hold for another year at least.

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via Bleacher Report – Front Page https://ift.tt/yO6Sgr
April 11, 2018 at 01:12AM

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Deportivo 2 Barcelona 4: Lionel Messi’s glorious hat-trick seals Barca’s 25th La Liga crown in style

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Philippe Coutinho hits opener before Depor fight back from 2-0 down to level – but Messi hits two late goals to clinch title

LIONEL MESSI’S latest glorious hat-trick clinched Barcelona’s 25th La Liga crown in dramatic style.

Philippe Coutinho curled Barca in front early on before Deportivo fought back from 2-0 down to level – only for Messi to strike twice in the last eight minutes.

 Argentina skipper Lionel Messi points the way to more silverware as his remarkable career claimed another landmark

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Argentina skipper Lionel Messi points the way to more silverware as his remarkable career claimed another landmark

Meanwhile, traditional rivals Real Madrid, who have won La Liga 33 times, languish in third place, a humiliating 15 points adrift of Barca.

Former Liverpool playmaker Coutinho curled the visitors’ seventh minute opener.

Then Messi volleyed Barca 2-0 up at the backpost from a stunning cross by Luis Suarez.

 Lionel Messi bags the third goal for Barcelona - and his second - to put them back in front

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Lionel Messi bags the third goal for Barcelona – and his second – to put them back in front
 Lionel Messi celebrates with Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez on the night Barcelona won the title

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Lionel Messi celebrates with Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez on the night Barcelona won the title

But Deportivo, who are now definitely relegated, battled back well.

Arsenal loanee Lucas Perez fired home a first-time shot on 40 minutes.

Barca needed only a point to be guaranteed the crown.

But, as so often in the past, Messi delivered at the biggest moments to secure victory.

He pounced neatly from close range on 82 and 85 minutes to complete the 46th treble of his career for club and country.

Messi has now netted 13 times at the Riazor, making it his best hunting ground along with Real’s Bernabeu.

Inside Lionel Messi’s new £525-a-night Ibiza hotel including luxury pool, rooftop bar and boutique rooms
 Lionel Messi enjoys his hat-trick goal that rounded off a 4-2 win and the title

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Lionel Messi enjoys his hat-trick goal that rounded off a 4-2 win and the title
 Jordi Alba hails treble-shooter Lionel Messi on another special night for Barcelona

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Jordi Alba hails treble-shooter Lionel Messi on another special night for Barcelona

Xavi names the two players who will replace Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi — Metro

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Solid picks.

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi believes Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will succeed Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best players.

Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the game over the last decade and have won five Ballon d’Ors each.

Neymar, meanwhile, was in sublime form for Barcelona last season and has continued his excellent run since joining Paris Saint-Germain last summer.

Mbappe made his breakthrough with Monaco last term and the 19-year-old is considered as one of the top prospects in world football.

Neymar is enjoying an impressive season at PSG. (AFP/Getty Images)

Xavi backs Kylian Mbappe to reach Neymar’s level. (AFP/Getty Images)

‘I have a huge respect for him [Neymar],’ Xavi told RMC Sport.

‘He’s a fantastic footballer, when Messi and Cristiano lower their level, he will win the next Golden Ball.

‘When Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo retire, the debate about the best in the world will be between Neymar and Mbappe.’

Lionel Messi well ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo on list of top five best paid footballers — Metro

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Lionel Messi is raking it in!

Lionel Messi has pocketed nearly £30million more than Cristiano Ronaldo this season, while Gerard Pique is the fifth best paid player in the world, according to research.

France Football is set to publish a list of the best paid players, taking into consideration not only their wages but also bonuses and sponsorship deals.

Messi comes out top, with the Barcelona star raking in an incredible £110million.

His Real Madrid rival Ronaldo earned £82m, while Paris St Germain striker Neymar had an income of £71m.

Ronaldo hates settling for second place (Getty)

The five highest earning footballers of 2017/18

  1. Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona): £110m
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): £82m
  3. Neymar (Paris SG): £71m
  4. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid): £39m
  5. Gerard Pique (FC Barcelona): £25m

Fourth on the list is Gareth Bale, despite the Real Madrid forward enduring a difficult campaign in which he’s started just 16 La Liga games.

Gerard Pique (Getty)

In fifth is Pique, a surprising inclusion considering he plays in defence. Typically strikers are the best rewarded players, but the Barcelona centre-back has crept in with earnings of £25m during 2017/18.

MORE: FA apologise for tweet mocking Harry Kane after FA Cup semi-final defeat

via Lionel Messi well ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo on list of top five best paid footballers — Metro

Gerard Pique showboats with kick-ups as Barcelona secure La Liga title with victory over Deportivo — Metro

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Gerard Pique was having fun as Barcelona secured the La Liga title (Picture: Sky Sports)Gerard Pique began showboating as Barcelona secured the La Liga title with a 4-2 victory over Deportivo La Coruna. The Catalan giants needed a point to be crowned champions and their night got off to the perfect start as Philippe Coutinho…

via Gerard Pique showboats with kick-ups as Barcelona secure La Liga title with victory over Deportivo — Metro   

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique was having fun as Barcelona secured the La Liga title (Picture: Sky Sports)

Gerard Pique began showboating as Barcelona secured the La Liga title with a 4-2 victory over Deportivo La Coruna.

The Catalan giants needed a point to be crowned champions and their night got off to the perfect start as Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring in the 7th minute.

Lionel Messi doubled Barca’s lead in the 38th minute before relegation strugglers Deportivo mounted a dramatic comeback in front of their home supporters on Sunday evening.

Valverde: ‘How Roma surprised Barcelona’

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romaErnesto Valverde commented Barcelona’s 3-0 defeat against Roma yesterday: “It’s a bad defeat and we are sorry for everybody, especially the fans. We have to react because we can still win two trophies and we want to turn things around as soon as possible. The defeat it’s my responsibility of course. It’s always the manager’s responsibility, either you win or lose. One week ago we scored four goals against the same opponents, we played well and we blocked them. This time we couldn’t.”“We were not surprised by Roma, they didn’t play as we expected but it was a possibility. The team has enough experience to take a good result home but we didn’t.”

“We started very well but we couldn’t do what we wanted because they forced us to play on the wings with their pressing. They created us troubles and we were unable to play the second ball at any time. We didn’t create any goal chances and they made the most of their enthusiasm scoring three.”

“They had planned a solid and aggressive game. The season is still very long and it’s hard to win this competition every year. It’s hard to accept it for our fans and our people. We all suffer tonight.”

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