Barca hu­mil­i­ated

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

BARCELONA — Lionel Messi ended with a blood­ied face, Ney­mar in tears, but no mat­ter what they tried Barcelona couldn’t break down a Ju­ven­tus de­fen­sive wall as the Span­ish cham­pi­ons crashed out of the Cham­pi­ons League soccer on Wed­nes­day night.

Wed­nes­day night’s 0-0 draw wasn’t the cause of their demise, but an er­ror-strewn 3-0 first leg de­feat that left even Messi, Ney­mar and Luis Suarez too much to do against the team with the best de­fen­sive record left in the Cham­pi­ons League.

“A good­bye with pride,” ran the head­line in both Barcelona sport dailies Mundo De­portivo and Sport.

The hosts were even handed a rous­ing re­cep­tion by the near 100 000 fans at the Camp Nou, but there is lit­tle time for Barca to lick their wounds as Sun­day’s El Cla­sico at La Liga lead­ers Real Madrid of­fers a fi­nal chance to save their sea­son.

“There was blood, sweat and tears and the Barca fans recog­nised that with a stand­ing ova­tion,” said Sport.

“The Cla­sico arrives as a fi­nal chance to lift a sea­son un­der­mined by in­con­sis­tency.”

Even a vic­tory at the home of their eter­nal ri­vals might not be enough for Barca to win a third straight league ti­tle.

Madrid lead the league by three points and also have a game in hand to come.

How­ever, win­ning at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu would ramp up the pres­sure on Zine­dine Zi­dane’s men and at the very least of­fer some joy in a sea­son short on things to shout about.

“We have the chance to put our­selves in the fight for La Liga,” said coach Luis En­rique af­ter over­see­ing his last Cham­pi­ons League game in charge be­fore step­ping down at the end of the sea­son.

“I feel happy to be able to work in a club that al­ways wants to win ev­ery­thing. It is not a good night and it is not a good mo­ment for Barca fans, but we will fight un­til the end.”

With­out the sus­pended Ney­mar on Sun­day, Barca will need Messi and Suarez to re­cover their killer in­stinct. Of Barca’s 17 shots on Wed­nes­day, only one was on tar­get and that came from de­fender Javier Mascher­ano.

“Im­po­tent against a wall,” said Madrid sports daily AS.

“The shots on tar­get are the ones that count,” con­ceded En­rique.

Emo­tions ahead of the Cla­sico couldn’t be more con­trast­ing for Spain’s two pow­er­houses.

While Barca have failed to make it be­yond the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ters for two suc­ces­sive sea­sons for a first time in a decade, Madrid booked their place in a sev­enth straight semi-fi­nal thanks to Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s hat-trick in a thrilling 6-3 ag­gre­gate win over Bay­ern Mu­nich.

Real have al­ways con­sid­ered them­selves the kings of Europe thanks to their 11 Euro­pean Cups. How­ever, now they seek to end Barca’s re­cent rule of do­mes­tic mat­ters in Spain with just a sec­ond league ti­tle in eight sea­sons.

Messi and Barca cap­tain An­dres Ini­esta have been two of the main­stays to Barca’s decade of dom­i­nance.

A bruised Messi will pick him­self up to go again at the Bern­abeu in search of his 500th Barcelona goal. And Ini­esta in­sisted the Cata­lans aren’t yet a spent force.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing to be elim­i­nated from the Cham­pi­ons League, but be­ing able to win La Liga de­pends on win­ning at the Bern­abeu and that is our in­ten­tion.” — AFP.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.