THE GODS HAVE SPOKEN
On Tuesday night the Gods definately decended on the Camp Nou as the mighty Barcelona were finally beaten. But its how they were beaten that sparked us all to vibrant chanting at Primi with the boys. We had a full house of lads with a handfull of Barca supporters. The two gutted guys on the night were Mike and Mini. Barcelona rained down on Chelsea. JT was stupidly sent off and at the time it looked as if he were carded for nothing. Barca went 2 up and we thought there goes the flood gates. Ten men and Chelsea fans looked despondant. Then Franl Lampard threaded Ramires threw and he audaciously chipped Valdez for a fantastic away goal. That was crucial. Then Barcelona had a penalty.Up stepped Messi and he hit the bar. I said to Mike and Seth…The Gods have spoken. Chelsea were defending like LIONS. Barca were missing and then on the break as we called it Fernando Torres was alone and the script was written. The Gods helped him on his way to burying the tie. Goodbye Barcelona and Chelsea into the final with key players missing. Roy of the Rovers stuff I tell you and always good to watch it with the lads
Get off the spot: Messi shows the world his weakness with eighth miss from 34 penalties
He may be the greatest talent on the planet, but from 12 yards the Argentine has shown himself to be distinctly human, and Barca must take action
It is argued by some that Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time, and it is certain that he’s already established himself as one of the iconic players of his generation, but against Chelsea, Barcelona’s No.10 contrived to show the world his great Achilles heel, the aspect of his game that often goes forgotten and almost inevitably goes unmentioned: his weakness from the penalty spot.
Messi’s fragility from such situations cannot be ignored now, though. The Argentine’s failure from 12 yards, lifting a shot against the face of Petr Cech’s bar early in the second half, was the defining moment of Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final failure against Chelsea. The Blaugrana would go on to lose 3-2 on aggregate, having seemingly been strapped tightly into the driving seat just before half-time when they led 2-0 on the night, 2-1 in the tie and enjoyed numerical supremacy against their Premier League opponents.
Six inches were the difference between the Ballon d’Or winner and ‘the perfect penalty’, but as is so often the case in sport, the finest margins can make all the difference. Instead of being 3-2 up and once again in control, Barca continued to trail on away goals.
LIONEL MESSI | THE MISSED PENALTIES
Missing from the spot is not something new in Messi’s career, but it is an issue that needs addressing by coach Pep Guardiola. Frittering away such chances in run-of-the-mill matches in La Liga may be a luxury that Barcelona can afford in the day-to-day business of domestic football, but at the very highest level, at which defensive slips are rare, profligacy of this sort is nothing short of criminal, and in this case, fatal.
There can be little doubt that Messi’s Pichichi rivalry with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has influenced the decision of the player – and potentially Guardiola – to retain his penalty duties, but the facts are that the Argentine’s record in this regard is remarkably mediocre for a player otherwise seen as simply remarkable.
|Eight times in his club career the 24-year-old has failed from the spot, including three times alone this term
Eight times in his club career the 24-year-old has failed to convert, including three times this term alone, which does not make for an impressive strike-rate given that he has struck only 34 penalties.
His latest miss happens to be his most expensive, and while the player is no doubt keen to show his character by taking the next penalty, it would be a wiser and more gallant move to allow someone else to show their skill in football’s most nerve-wracking discipline – even if the Blaugrana are not stacked with alternative specialists.
The secret of Barca’s success is their teamwork and cohesion, but such unselfishness must be shown in the dressing room, too. From open play, the Argentine can remain their main man, but over a dead ball there are many more able than he – and until this is accepted at Camp Nou, the risk of another such shock like Tuesday night will always be that little more likely without a reliable presence from 12 yards.