Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi insists that the club’s disappointing UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of eventual winners Chelsea is behind him but maintains that the result was unfair to the Spanish Cup winners.
Messi scored in last Friday’s 3-0 rout of Athletic Bilbao to give outgoing manager Pep Guardiola a positive farewell with the Copa Del Rey title but admits that defeat in other competitions has left him hurting.
Despite Messi’s 50-goal season (73 across all competitions), he was unable to help Barca avoid finishing second to Real Madrid in La Liga and on a more disappointing note, the Argentine could not leave the desired impact against the Blues in the semifinals of the Champions League either.
Defending their European crown, Barca lost the first leg 1-0 after terrific team defense from Chelsea and a clinical solitary goal from Didier Drogba prompted them to leave Stamford Bridge empty-handed.
John Terry’s early sending off, coupled with two first-half goals, brought Messi’s teammates back in control of their destiny but ultimately, Chelsea tied 2-2 on the night and won 3-2 on aggregate.
The 24-year old Messi was one of the culprits himself as he missed a crucial second-half penalty to facilitate the Blues’ progress to the final in Munich.
Chelsea ultimately defeated Bayern Munich on penalties to win their first ever Champions League crown but Messi remains unconvinced.
A day after former Real Madrid striker Raul described Barca and Real as significantly stronger than all their global competitors over the course of a 38-match season, Messi added that the Catalans deserved more than they got in Europe’s most elite club competition this past season.
“We were close to winning the league and the Champions League. I am madder about the Champions League because I think our elimination was unjust and also for missing that penalty,” Messi told reporters.
Looking to the future, he continued: “But this is already behind us. I am very happy for all the goals that I scored. My objective is the same every year – to keep learning, growing and improving.”