Barcelona captain Lionel Messi spoke in public for the first time since the Blaugrana’s embarrassing collapse against Liverpool in the Champions League, noting the difficulties the squad have had in mentally recovering from the match since.
On Saturday, Barcelona will face Valencia in the Copa del Rey at the Estadio Benito Villamarin and, should they win, it will secure back-to-back domestic doubles for coach Ernesto Valverde, yet his future remains up in the air. Nevertheless, the Liverpool defeat dominated the press conference.
“[The Liverpool game] was a really hard blow that we received; for me and the rest of the players,” said Messi.
“It was hard to get back up. It was a really hard blow.
“We played a terrible game. It can happen one year but to happen two years in a row [having lost a three-goal lead in the quarter-finals to Roma in 2017/18]…. to have the chance to be in a Champions League final, it’s impermissible.
“The game against Liverpool was different from losing the World Cup final [with Argentina against Germany in 2014]. But having an advantage of three goals and still losing is unexpected and very tough.”
Prior to the season commencing, Messi’s first as the main captain, he had said that the goal for this campaign would be to ‘bring that beautiful and desired cup’ back to the Camp Nou, yet the Argentine touched on that statement in the press conference.
“I didn’t promise to bring ‘that beautiful and desired cup’ back, I promised to do everything to try and bring it back,” affirmed Messi.
“But we didn’t do that, so we should say sorry for that because we didn’t even compete in the second leg.”
The 31-year-old firmly stood behind Valverde with his comments, stating his support for the coach on multiple occasions.
“”I would like Valverde to continue next year, we won a double last year and we can repeat that this year,” said Messi.
“The coach has done impressive work. All the time he’s been here, he’s not to blame for the Liverpool elimination, we are the ones to blame.”
Messi was asked about the prospect of Antoine Griezmann arriving at the Camp Nou, too. After declaring that he likes the Frenchman and is one of the best around last summer, he was very coy on the subject this time around.
“I won’t give my opinion,” he stated.