In Barcelona's 3-0 win against Bayern Munich, Argentinean superstar Lionel Messi was once again the best player on the pitch. He was the man who made the difference.
Bayern didn't play that badly against Barcelona, but they didn't play that well either. The reason they lost 3-0 to Barcelona was because of a 5'5" Argentinean.
"We had a lot of control, but Messi's talent made the difference," conceded Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola after his side's clear Champions League semifinal defeat. "Messi's individual quality is unique," said Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who was beaten by the exceptional striker for the first time in his career. His first goal was an unstoppable hit from the edge of the area. With the second, the 27-year-old embarrassed Jerome Boateng, dancing past the World Cup winner like a skier does a slalom pole, before elegantly lifting the ball over Neuer. And if that wasn't enough, Messi then put Neymar through for the third with a dream pass.
Messi warns of overconfidence
The match winner was as humble as ever afterwards. "Germany is a very tricky place. We have got a good result for the first leg, which is what we wanted, but we can't go there with too much confidence," said Messi, looking ahead to next week's second leg on Tuesday.
Bayern are on the verge of exiting Europe's elite competition, with a place in the final in Berlin on June 6 beyond comprehension. "I'm not really a fan of rallying calls, but when you lose 3-0 then of course your chances [of progression] are not as good," said Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at Bayern's post-game banquet. "But we have another game. We are Bayern Munich! Perhaps there will be a football wonder."
A forward who guarantees goals
What Bayern need for their football wonder is the sport's sensation on two legs: Lionel Messi. The four-time Ballon d'Or winner is having yet another remarkable season. Messi has scored 51 goals in 53 games so far in 2014/15, 40 in 35 league games, three in five Spanish cup games and 10 in 11 Champions League appearances. On top of that, the forward has 25 assists. In the Champions League, he and the current Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo continue a fascinating battle to be the competition's all-time leading goalscorer. On Tuesday, Ronaldo edged ahead with 76 before Messi's brace against Bayern put him back in the lead on 77. Every football fan should be thankful simply for the opportunity to watch these two once-in-a-lifetime footballers.
Götze and Messi are worlds apart
Would Germany head coach Joachim Löw still say the same words to Mario Götze in the 2014 World Cup final in Rio? "Show the world that you are better than Messi!" Löw's words made the difference back then, but the World Cup winning coach, along with the other 95,000 fans in the Nou Camp on Wednesday night, watched Mario Götze occupy a place on the bench until the 79th minute. His 10-minute cameo appearance was one to forget. "Sometimes he looks like a youth player, when he loses tackles and stands still," ranted Bayern's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer to Sky afterwards. "It doesn't suit Bayern. It's time he started to grow up."
However much progress Götze makes though, he won't come close to the dizzying qualities of Lionel Messi.