Lionel Messi and Ernesto Valverde came under fire from Spanish press after Barcelona’s Champions League exit.
The Spanish press questioned Lionel Messi and rounded on boss Ernesto Valverde after Barcelona’s shock Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Roma. Barcelona surrendered a 4-1 first leg advantage to lose 3-0 in Rome and crash out on away goals, but as well as blaming Valverde’s tactics, fingers were pointed at an off-colour Messi.
“The final whistle in Rome not only signified Barcelona’s Champions League capitulation but also that of Lionel Messi, who lost possession 19 times, shot only two of his five efforts on target, and failed to score throughout the entire tie,” wrote Marca. “From being such an integral part of the win over Chelsea in the last 16, the Argentine arrived at a round in which he has tended to struggle, and that factor became far more than a coincidence as he went missing once again in the quarter-finals.
“There is a clear parallel between Messi’s drop-off in the competition and his club’s. With just one title in the last seven years, the Catalans are starved of continental success and the startling way in which their big players go missing on these occasions is really taking its toll.”