Philippe Coutinho

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Barcelona’s Messi reacts to three-goal defeat of Liverpool

1 Comment

The positives of Liverpool’s performance on Wednesday at the Camp Nou are all in spirit and statistics, but several negatives remain for the Reds following a 3-0 UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg loss to Barcelona.

[ KLOPP: Goal was “unsaveable” ]

The three-goal deficit was bad. No away goals scored = also bad. And the fact that it’s Barcelona on the other side of the field falls into a similar category.

Additionally, Barca manager Ernesto Valverde reiterated what anyone with a pulse would’ve acknowledged: The Blaugranas‘ come-from-ahead loss to AS Roma last season has them awake to all possibilities ahead of the second leg at Anfield.

That said, Ousmane Dembele butchered a stunning chance to make the score line 4-0 in stoppage time. That is a positive, and none other than Lionel Messi admitted a finish would’ve all but put Liverpool away. From Marca:

“Four would’ve been better than three but it’s still a very good result,” Messi added. “3-0 is a very good result. The tie is not decided because we are going to a historical stadium and it will demand a lot, but we are very satisfied.”

Still, Barca is just one goal away from demanding a five-star performance from the Reds at Anfield, one that would require a four-goal advantage on the day.

One other thing that don’t go well for Barcelona, and it’s likely to occur in a different manner come next week: Ex-Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho continues to hear it from his home crowd, and Messi says it’s not doing anything for the club at this pivotal point in the season.

As for that free kick? Messi admits he struck it sweetly.

“It went in spectacularly well; I saw the spot and luckily enough, that’s where it went,” said Messi.

LIVE, Champions League semifinal: Barcelona v. Liverpool

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi v. Mohamed Salah. Ernesto Valverde v. Jurgen Klopp. Barcelona v. Liverpool.

The first leg of this UEFA Champions League semifinal should be epic, as two European giants collide on Wednesday (kick off, 3 p.m. ET), with these teams the two favorites to win it all in Madrid on June 1.

[ LIVE: Barcelona v. Liverpool ]

Barcelona are the slight favorites in this game, because, Messi, but aside from that these teams are very evenly matched. Liverpool are pushing for the Premier League title and want to reach the UCL final for the second-straight season, while Barca wrapped up the La Liga title at the weekend and Messi is nice and rested for the first leg.

With the second leg at Anfield, Liverpool will probably sit back a little deeper and pick their moments to attack, with the battle between Virgil Van Dijk and Messi set to be the deciding factor across these semifinal games.

Liverpool’s team selection has raised a few eyebrows with Firmino only fit enough for the bench, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson have also been left out of the starting lineup.

Barcelona start Arturo Vidal in midfield, with the front three of Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho ready to do work.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action, while here at Pro Soccer Talk we will have analysis and reaction from what promises to be an epic game at the Nou Camp.

LINEUPS

La Liga: Messi crowns Barcelona with league title

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi scored his 33rd goal of the Spanish top flight season as Barcelona topped Levante 1-0, confirming the club’s seventh La Liga title in the last 10 years.

Messi started the match on the bench, but came on at halftime to replace the continually ineffective Philippe Coutinho. Messi needed just 17 minutes to find the back of the net, with Levante unable to clear in the 62nd minute and a charging Arturo Vidal stole the ball and immediately fed his superstar striker in the box.

The one was all Barcelona would get, but it wasn’t without trying. Barcelona absolutely beat Levante into submission, outshooting the visitors at the Camp Nou 23-7, including 12-2 on frame. Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernández made 11 saves but came up one short. The league title is the 10th in Lionel Messi’s stunning career, becoming just the third player in Spanish top flight history to reach that mark and the first for a club other than Real Madrid. He is also the first foreign player to reach that mark.

Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid came closer to confirming a second-place finish with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid. The lone goal came from a terrible error by Valladolid defender Joaquin who headed the ball into his own net on an attempted clear. With three games remaining, the three points moved Atletico nine ahead of Real Madrid who plays tomorrow.

Alaves and Athletic Club drew 1-1 in a disappointing result for both sides as they look to strengthen European places. Beñat and Borja Baston cancelled each other out just before halftime, and that was it for either squad as neither side gets a leg up in the chase for a Europa League position. Athletic remains in seventh with 50 points, two back of Valencia in sixth, while Alaves sits just behind them in eighth with 47 points.

Leganes and Celta Vigo drew 0-0 in a match that featured just three total shots on target. Leganes is already safe and has little to play for, but Celta Vigo will have wished for a better attacking display as they sit just three points above the relegation zone.

Solskjaer, Lingard know losses to Barca happen, but rebound necessary

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona was too much for Manchester United, as the Blaugranas used a prime performance from the best player in the world to advance to the UEFA Champions League Final.

[ RECAP: Barca 3-0 (4-0 agg.) Man Utd ]

United midfielder Jesse Lingard and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer understand two things:

  1. Lionel Messi is fantastic.
  2. The Red Devils cannot dwell on their UCL exit, or they won’t be back in the competition next season.

Messi scored a pair of goals in the first 20 minutes, and Philippe Coutinho also scored in a 3-0 win that served to buttress a first leg win to advance 4-0 on aggregate.

“Lionel Messi brought his A-game tonight, he’s one of the best in the world,” Lingard said. “All we can do is move on, it’s a big week ahead. We were always underdogs but we had to back ourselves and believe. Chances in these big games are massive.”

“I have to say Lionel Messi is top quality and he was the difference of course,” Solskjaer said. “He’s different class, he and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best players of the last decade, everyone agrees on that one. Messi showed his quality.”

Solskjaer has long spoken of getting United’s mystique back under the red jersey and inside the walls of Old Trafford.

One thing, though: United needs to be in the Champions League to win the Champions League. The Red Devils need some big performances in the next few weeks to finish in the Top Four.

“We have to aspire to get to that level of Barcelona, we can get there but we have loads of work to do. If we want to get back to Man Utd’s true level, true traditions, we have to challenge Barcelona,” Solskjaer said. “They were a couple of levels above over the two games. We want to play these games again next year so we have a massive week coming up. There is no point dwelling on what could have been, we have to focus on that week.”

The Red Devils are at Everton on Sunday and home to Manchester City on April 24. They finish with Chelsea, Huddersfield Town, and Cardiff City.

Messi, Barcelona knock Manchester United out of Champions League (video)

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

The fairytale ending didn’t materialize for Manchester United, as Lionel Messi and Barcelona thumped their visitors 3-0 on Tuesday at the Camp Nou to win the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal 4-0 on aggregate.

Messi scored twice and Philippe Coutinho also scored as Barca advanced to meet the winner of Liverpool and Porto.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

United controlled the ball off the opening kickoff, and Paul Pogba sent Marcus Rashford on goal only to see the young striker rip a shot over the cross bar.

United had the better of the early chances, but Ivan Rakitic’s charge for a loose ball saw him trip over the outstretched leg of Fred in the box. It wasn’t intentional, and the decision would go to VAR.

No penalty.

Barca went ahead minutes later, as Messi cut in from the right to swerve a sensational strike around the diving De Gea.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

And it was 2-0 before long, 3-0 on aggregate, as Messi’s low drive took a slight turn off Phil Jones but still seemed destined for De Gea’s arms only to squirt underneath the United keeper.

De Gea made a face save before halftime to deny Sergi Roberto and Messi in their bid to ice the contest.

Coutinho put it to bed with just under a half-hour to play, and Liverpool fans have seen this a time or two.