Why Lionel Messi missing out on the UEFA Player of the Year award top-3 shortlist is justified
UEFA announced on Monday that Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah have been short-listed for the UEFA Player of the Year award leaving no room for five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi. The Argentine talisman made it to the top 10 but came fifth apparently behind Antoine Griezmann.
Ronaldo who has won the prestigious award thrice in the past four seasons helped Real Madrid in winning a third consecutive Champions League title this season as he scored 15 goals in 13 appearances and ended his campaign as the tournament's top goalscorer.
Modric after winning the Champions League title with Madrid inspired his national side, Croatia to reach the World Cup final where they finished as runners-up and the 32-year-old midfielder bagged the Golden Ball.
Salah had an impressive first season with Liverpool as he scored 44 goals in 52 appearances and played a pivotal role in taking his side to the Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid.
Messi even after winning the domestic double and the European Golden Shoe was unable to make it to the top 3 and we shall now take a look at reasons why it is justified for him to miss out on this award.
Substandard performance in crucial matches
The 31-year-old forward had a rocky start to his season as Barcelona were defeated heavily by arch-rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup. However, Ernesto Valverde's men quickly turned things around as Barcelona went on to win their first 7 league games and ended the year with a 25-match unbeaten streak.
The first crucial away fixture for Barcelona came on 18th January when they faced local rivals Espanyol in the first leg of Copa del Rey quarter-final. The game ended Barcelona's 29-match unbeaten streak as Messi missed from the spot and Oscar Melendo scored for Espanyol in the dying moments of the game to seal the victory. Barcelona were, however, able to turn things around the following week in Camp Nou as they defeated their Catalan rivals by 2-0 to win the tie 2-1 on aggregate.
Barcelona were drawn against Chelsea in the round of 16 of UEFA Champions League and the first leg at Stamford Bridge once again saw a sloppy performance from the Catalan club as they conceded first and were only able to equalise due to Chelsea's defensive error. Messi scored the equaliser but that was his only highlight of the match as he too looked a little out of touch.
The most disappointing performance from Messi came against AS Roma when Barcelona crashed out of the Champions league even after winning the first leg by 4-1. It can be agreed that the Barcelona defence was an unmitigated disaster against Roma but a solitary away goal would've been enough to see Barcelona through and all eyes were on Messi to deliver a magical moment but sadly it never arrived.
Disappointing Champions League campaign
Messi ended the 2017-18 season as the top goalscorer across all competitions with 45 goals in 54 appearances but was unable to make any significant impact in the UEFA Champions League as he scored only 6 goals in 10 appearances. His performance in away fixtures was even more distressing as he scored just one goal away from home.
Messi's best Champions League performance came against Chelsea in the second leg of the round of 16 when he scored a brace and took his all-time champions league goal tally to 100. However, that was his only highlight of an otherwise forgettable champions league campaign.
The quarter-final tie against AS Roma was the final nail in the coffin for the Argentine forward as he failed to score in 180 minutes and crashed out of the tournament as Roma stunned the Catalan club with an epic comeback.