3 reasons why Lionel Messi will still win the Ballon d'Or after Barcelona's Champions League exit
Barcelona collapsed against an injury-depleted Liverpool side last night to squander a 3-0 first leg lead and got eliminated from the Champions League, following their 4-0 loss at Anfield in the semi-final second leg. Divock Origi and Georgino Wijnaldum scored braces as Jurgen Klopp's side leveraged the atmosphere at Anfield to trounce the Spanish champions, pulling off the upset of the season in the Champions League. Lionel Messi's first leg heroics, where he scored a sensational brace, came undone as the Argentine talisman was effectively nullified by Virgil van Dijk and company on Merseyside.
The gaping inadequacies of Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona were highlighted as last night's performance yet again showed that Messi's superhuman performances were all that enabled them to get so far in Europe's premier competition. A season that seemed destined for a record 'third treble' and an inevitable record sixth Ballon d'Or for Messi crumbled like a deck of cards in England. Although Barcelona might go on to complete the domestic double by winning their Copa del Rey final against Valencia, this group of players will go down as one of the most character-lacking squads in Blaugrana history.
Barcelona's over-dependency on Messi and defensive frailties were exploited superbly by Klopp's Liverpool side as the 'Messiah' provided the lone creative spark for the Blaugrana, being directly involved in all eight of Barcelona's shots last night against Liverpool, with five shots attempted and three chances created. Showing incredible team spirit even without key players such as Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool crushed the newly-crowned Spanish champions.
This author is, however, of the opinion that Messi will still end up winning a record sixth Ballon d'Or because of his otherworldly performances this season, despite Barcelona's shambolic display in the Champions League. Here are the three reasons for coming to this conclusion.