Lionel Messi's Terrific Season Shouldn't Be Overshadowed by Late UCL Woes
Perfection is expected from Lionel Messi. On the occasions when he doesn't provide it, such as the Champions League semifinals against Bayern Munich, it tends to mask his otherwise strong play. Still, the UCL exit shouldn't overshadow his entire season.
Messi failed to make an impact in the first leg as Bayern surged to a 4-0 edge. Then a lingering hamstring issue held him out of the starting lineup in the second leg. Tito Vilanova never brought him off the bench as the German champions' rout continued.
Given the fact that fans in Spain were dreaming of a potential El Clasico for the Champions League final, it was a great disappointment when both Barca and Real Madrid were eliminated.
And because Messi was unable to make his presence felt in either of the semifinal matches for Barcelona, he unsurprisingly garnered a lot of attention for his rare lackluster performance.
How would you grade Messi's season as a whole?
Nobody knows if the outcome would have been different had Messi provided a vintage outing in the first leg. Regardless, the fact the Blaugrana won't be walking away with the UCL trophy shouldn't obscure everything else the dynamic striker accomplished this season.
It's a point of reflection that will be highlighted when Barcelona capture the La Liga title. They need just one more result, or a negative result by Real Madrid, which could happen as soon as today as Los Blancos take on Malaga.
Even if they don't receive any help from Real's opponents, it's only a matter of time before Barca clinch their fourth title in five years. Anything less would take a collapse of monumental proportions.
The trophy will showcase all the great moments Messi had throughout the campaign. He leads the league with 46 goals, 13 more than Cristiano Ronaldo. Furthermore, he was normally the most dangerous player on the pitch for La Liga's best attack.
Without him, the club's journey to the title would have been far more complicated. The amount of attention he attracts from the defense and the highlight-reel goals (via 101GreatGoals.com) he scores on a consistent basis make life easier on his teammates.
Barcelona won't earn all of the trophies they were hoping for when the season began. Taking care of business in league play is the top priority, though. Everything builds off that success, and Messi played a gigantic role in making sure Barca accomplished that goal.
Sure, playing more like the Messi fans are used to seeing and leading Barcelona past Bayern into the Champions League final would have been a nice accomplishment. But just because it didn't happen doesn't mean Messi didn't have another extraordinary season.
Clinching the title should put that back in perspective after a disappointing week of reflection at Camp Nou.
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