Lionel Messi guilty of disappearing but Barcelona tainting his legacy

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The soul-searching didn’t wait until Wednesday in Barcelona. It began on Tuesday, as soon as the final whistle blew at the Stadio Olimpico and Roma’s place in nfl football shop the Champions League semifinal was confirmed. Barcelona and Lionel Messi, for the third season in a row and the fourth time in five years, were kicked out of Europe in the last eight.

“Barca spent the whole game waiting for a miracle from Messi,” the director of Catalan newspaper Diario Sport, Ernest Folch, wrote in the minutes after the game. “So often he is able to hide their weaknesses. But it didn’t arrive this time.

No one has managed that in La Liga this season. Messi, with 29, has scored more than anyone else in Spain’s top flight. He’s set up another 12. That’s a direct involvement in over 50 percent of Barca’s 79 league goals — and it doesn’t include the other goals his fingerprints can be found on.

Take those goals away and Barca would lose 12 points, dropping below Atletico in the table. Take the goals and the assists away, they would lose 20 points, demoting them below Real Madrid and Valencia, too.

Barca are unbeaten in La Liga — only thanks to Messi’s match-saving cameo at Sevilla — and on track to win their seventh title in 10 years. That’s predominantly thanks to Messi. Former president Joan Gaspart, though, said this week that the Argentine forward cannot win the Champions League all on his own.

He may feel like he will never win the Champions League again at this rate. Not since 2013 has he scored a goal in the quarterfinals, against Paris Saint-Germain. Barca were then stung 7-0 on aggregate by Bayern in the last four. Since then, the Catalans have been knocked out in the last eight in four of the last five years, Messi never on target. The slight exception is 2015. There was notably less reliance nfl jersey shop china on Messi (although he was still the semifinal hero) who, with the benefit of hindsight, was perhaps at his most selfless alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar, whose goals in the quarterfinal and final fired Barca to the trophy. The feeling was of a workload shared.