Thursday, May 26

“I don’t think Messi has doubts about the future of the team”

  • The coach believes that the captain has reasons to continue next season

  • “He has seen for a long time that the team is going to more, but the decision is his,” says the coach

There are penalties that Leo Messi never forgets. If they are in the Champions League, even more so. Something like this already happened to him at Guardiola’s Barça when he missed a maximum penalty at the Camp Nou during the semifinal with Chelsea in the 2011-12 Champions League. He smashed it on the crossbar. The ball ended up going to the same place in the Parque de los Príncipes with Koeman’s Barça.

Messi was not seen as if he were playing the last game of his European career with the Barça shirt. He showed leadership and energy to lead the team through a superb first half, frustrated, however, by a lack of aim, which punished Koeman’s team.

Leo had scored his only four goals in the Champions League on penalties. But he ran into Navas and the crossbar.

Until it was time for the game. And who knows if even the tie, shaken as Paris SG was before the offensive football display of the Catalans. Kurzawa’s penalty to Griezmann in added time in the first half and a penalty to place Barça 1-2.

Leo threw furiously, changing his way of taking penalties, he repelled Keylor Navas and the ball was also spat out by the crossbar. The Barça captain was frustrated, almost a decade later. Again, away from the Champions League, already 34 years old. As happened with Chelsea, leaving him “a thorn” that he never forgot.

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But that, Koeman argues, shouldn’t influence your future. Waiting for Messi to say something is Joan Laporta, the new president, and Ronald Koeman, the coach who signed Bartomeu. “Leo has seen for a long time that the team is going to more,” said the Barça coach.

And on the fifth penalty he missed

Koeman was referring to the fact that Messi sees that there are “young people with quality and a future …”, so it may be a factor to incline him to stay at the Camp Nou. “I don’t think I have any doubts about the future of this team. Now it’s Leo who has to decide, but I don’t think this is an argument for not staying,” Koeman said.

Curiously, Messi had only scored penalty goals in this Champions League. One to Ferencvaros, another to Juventus, the third against Dinamo Kiev and the fourth in the first leg to Paris SG at the Camp Nou. However, the one on the way back in the Parc des Princes missed.

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After the game, Leo did not come out as dejected as in Rome, Liverpool or Lisbon. He did not seem to play that game, despite the 1-4 in the first leg, as if it were the last in a long love affair with Barça that has now been around for three decades. He played it with the enthusiasm and energy almost of a newcomer, no matter how much it assumed an almost inevitable end.

Before sneaking into the locker room, Messi received the affectionate embrace of Ángel di Maria, his compatriot, and then Mauricio Pochettino. Both whispered something in his ear, but Leo, who had scored a monumental goal with an impressive shot from 35 meters to seal the 1-1, left dejected. Europe is forbidden territory for him. And for Barça. Berlin-2015 is getting further and further away.

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