Champions League: Lionel Messi Storms Liverpool, Barcelona Close to the Final

Football
Barcelona are closer to the final of the Champions League

On Wednesday, May 1st, 2019, the Argentinian scored his 599 and 600th goals with Barcelona, offering himself a foot in the final of the Champions League and a footstep to a sixth Ballon d’Or.

And Lionel Messi thundered Liverpool … With his 599th and 600th goals for Barcelona, the Argentine has sent the “Reds” (3-0) a sumptuous double on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 in the first semifinal of the Champions League after a match breathless and miraculous for the Catalans, now close to the final.

Read also: Champions League: against Tottenham, Ajax puts a foot in the final

At Camp Nou, Barcelona suffered, folded and almost broken, saved by the parries of their goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen and their post (84).

Towards a sixth Ballon d’Or?

But opportunistically, the former “Red” Luis Suarez opened the scoring (26th). And Messi changed the lead into gold, generating a decisive action before accompanying in the cage the shot of Suarez pushed by the cross (75th), then sending in the skylight an incredible free-kick to register his 600th goal Barcelona, the 12th in this C1 (82nd).

It is cruel for Liverpool, who has squeezed Barça like rarely this season and will have to work to reverse the score on Tuesday’s return to Anfield.

But it is a good summary of the odd destiny of a small striker born in Rosario, Argentina, and close to play the fifth final of C1 career, June 1st in Madrid, an ideal step to a sixth Ballon d ‘Or.

Lionel Messi after his 3rd goal against Liverpool on May 1, 2019 in Barcelona.
Lionel Messi after his 3rd goal against Liverpool on May 1, 2019 in Barcelona. (© AFP / JAVIER SORIANO)

Intensity

The captain of Barca had announced it, he dreams of reclaiming the European Cup, “so beautiful and so desired”. Without him, the Catalans would probably have sunk so much Barcelona was tossed, caught by the intensity of Liverpool’s game.

Maybe it was related to the choice of coach Ernesto Valverde to place in midfield the Chilean Arturo Vidal, impact player, rather than the Brazilian Arthur, control man? Or the hangover after the recent conquest of the title of champion of Spain?

In any case, the “Reds” smothered Barca. The Senegalese Mané, on the left, has often taken speed Gerard Piqué (5th, 23rd) and he blames himself for having sent to the rostrum a recovery in excellent position (35th).

As for Salah, he made misery to Clement Lenglet, who received a yellow card for having roughly hooked the striker (39th). Moreover, the striking of the Egyptian on the post (84) could have changed the course of the double confrontation …

Barça striker Luis Suarez vs. Liverpoool, May 1, 2019 at Camp Nou.
Barça striker Luis Suarez vs. Liverpoool, May 1, 2019 at Camp Nou. (© AFP / JOSE JORDAN)

Breathless

And despite the early exit of Naby Keita injury (22), the “Reds” dominated, running in all directions while the Barcelona were out of breath. We even saw Messi ask for calm from his partners, too quick to clear the cookie cutter …

In this context, the opener had the air of divine surprise for the Catalans: on a low center of Jordi Alba, Suarez threw himself at the first post to surprise the goalkeeper (26th). The Uruguayan immediately celebrated the 500th goal in C1 in the history of Barcelona with effusion and without the slightest regard for his former club.

For a long time, the Blaugrana hero was German: at the height of the English domination at the beginning of the second period, Marc-André ter Stegen kept the Barca afloat by his parades, as splendid as they were decisive (47th, 53rd, 59th).

And then Messi appeared.

Messi appeared

Yet managed before the shock, the fivefold Ballon d’Or could seem less comfortable than usual, often contained by the excellent defender Virgil Van Dijk.

He has been seen trying several tumoulés which he has the secret (14th, 15th) and offer balloons to Arturo Vidal (64th) and Suarez (68th), who have not benefited.

Until this clear opening for Sergi Roberto, who shifted Suarez whose strike found the cross. Messi had followed, he scored and exulted with his audience (75th).

Seven minutes later, his coiled free kick cleaned the skylight (82) and he unsuccessfully gave Ousmane Dembélé a 4-0 shot on the last action of the game that would have definitely stunned Liverpool. Anyway, the “Reds” will have to turn mountains in the second leg if they want to block the road of the final to the huge Messi.

Liverpool Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah disappointed at the end of the match against Barcelona in Champions League
Liverpool Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah disappointed at the end of the match against Barcelona on 1 May 2019 at Camp Nou. (© AFP / Josep LAGO)
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