After Barcelona’s demoralizing 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday night, one thing has been slightly overlooked: Should Lionel Messi have played?
The Argentine forward hardly had an influence on the game, as the stats prove just how ineffective he was in the final third. Messi touched the ball 72 times, on average he has 76.4 touches per Champions League game, so not much of a change there.
However he averages 3.2 shots per UCL game with an average of 2 on target. Against Bayern he didn’t register a single shot. And usually he creates 1.7 chances per game, again he created 0 chances for his Barca teammates.
What does this all mean? Well, the man himself put it down to a bit of rustiness, and an incredible display from the German side.
“I’ve been out of competition for 15 days,” Messi said. “It was my first game back since the injury. But I couldn’t do much after the result we had. Such a pity, but we must go on.”
The incredible result has been deliberated in the press across Europe this morning, with many pointing out just how much fitter and sharper Munich looked all over the pitch, compared to their Spanish opponents. And Messi struggled to get involved as wave after wave of rampant Bayern attack swarmed towards Barcelona’s makeshift defense.
Tito Vilanova decided to call on the four-time world player of the year, but the managers decision may come under scrutiny in some quarters. However, if you have the worlds best player at your disposal and you are facing a huge European rival away from home, you simply have to play him. But it backfired for the Catalan club.
Now it will be incredibly interesting to see if Messi plays in La Liga in the next few weeks, or makes a hasty return to the treatment table.