Lionel Messi’s indefinite status as the world’s best player was mocked online as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner failed to ignite in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final defeat against Liverpool.
It is sometimes said that a player is only as good as his last game and that very much seems to be the case with Messi in the social media aftermath of his side’s crushing 4-0 defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s team.
For the second year in succession Messi and Barcelona let a healthy first leg advantage slip to be unceremoniously dumped from a competition they had been the odds-on favorites to win. And despite a bagful of goals this year, including 12 in 9 in the Champions League, the blame appears to have fallen at the feet of the man in the number ten shirt.
For the first time since 2013 the Champions League Final will be played without Messi or his chief rival, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese, who had his own European heartbreak in the colors of Juventus this season, has now won the competition three times since Messi last lifted the trophy.
For all of his undoubted brilliance, Messi has perhaps not quite been as effective since the days of Xavi and Iniesta supplying him, or when he was flanked by Neymar and a slightly more spritely Luis Suarez.
Liverpool showed on Tuesday that if Messi can be contained, so too are his teammates and this is a point which has resonated around social media, in varying degrees, since the final whistle on a famous night on Merseyside.