Lionel Messi, Barcelona discard Chelsea in Champions League


Lionel Messi scored twice and had one assist in Barcelona’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Chelsea in the round of 16. (Getty)

Lionel Messi scored twice and had one help in Barcelona’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Chelsea within the spherical of 16. (Getty)

Chelsea’s annus horribilis by some means bought worse on Wednesday, when it was bounced ignominiously from the UEFA Champions League spherical of 16 by a virtuoso Lionel Messi efficiency as he led FC Barcelona to a 3-0 victory and a 4-1 combination rating.

There’s no nice disgrace in that, after all, besides that Barca’s win was so easy, so complete, so fast, that it’s going to solely add gas to the fireplace raging in West London, the place supervisor Antonio Conte’s tenure may not even be tenable by means of the tip of the season.

And it received’t be misplaced on the Blues followers that that is the second disastrous marketing campaign in three seasons, each coming, curiously, on the heels of a Premier League title win.

Final yr, Conte strode into Stamford Bridge like a savior, main Chelsea to a simple title after a calamitous remaining season – or a partial one, anyway – below Jose Mourinho, within the follow-up to his personal championship. However thus far this yr, Chelsea misplaced the Group Defend to Arsenal on penalties; misplaced within the League Cup semis to the Gunners in January; and went on such a foul latest run within the league, with 4 losses in 5 video games, that Conte’s males slumped to fifth place – exterior the coveted Champions League locations.

Now all that’s left to play for with two months left within the season is the FA Cup. As a result of it took simply 20 minutes for Barca to get all of the targets it wanted Wednesday, simply three weeks after the Blues had been unlucky to not take greater than a 1-1 draw from their dwelling leg. In any case, Willian had struck the woodwork twice then, earlier than bagging a go-ahead purpose that was canceled out by Messi’s tally.

In Catalonia, Messi scored the quickest purpose of his profession – his 601st in his Barca profession – inside two minutes and eight seconds; masterminded Ousmane Dembele’s first purpose for the membership; after which bought the third himself in a 3-0 win, his a centesimal within the Champions League. He’s the second man to achieve the milestone, and wanted fewer video games and pictures than Cristiano Ronaldo to get there.

Shortly after kickoff, Messi began a transfer up the correct facet of the sector, which fortuitously stayed in his facet’s possession earlier than Luis Suarez backheeled the ball behind the line of defense for Messi. He caught his end by means of the legs of Thibaut Courtois from a miniscule angle. It wasn’t the Belgian goalkeeper’s most superb second, coming from Messi’s proper off-leg, no much less.

Then, within the twentieth, Messi picked off a lax Cesc Fabregas cross in midfield, began the counter-attack on his personal and laid off for the trailing Dembele, who hammered in his end.

Getting ready to halftime, Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso curled a free kick off the skin of the put up that very practically made a recreation of it once more.

And Chelsea deserved to get again into it. As a result of after conceding the second purpose, it largely managed the sport. That made the consolation of Barca’s win all of the extra curious.

After the intermission, Dembele needed to make a lung-busting restoration run to disclaim Marcos Alonso a transparent shot within the field. And the Spaniard and his brethren then shrieked for a penalty when he tumbled down in entrance of Gerard Pique within the field, despite his seemingly clear run at purpose.

Courtois had an unusually shaky evening, giving Suarez a free probability with a dreadful giveaway. However, for essentially the most half, Chelsea commanded the run of play. So Barca supervisor Ernesto Valverde made a system change earlier than the hour — going from two strikers to a 4-3-3. And whereas that didn’t cease Chelsea’s assault, Barca quickly bought its third.

Within the 63rd minute, Messi began one other assault, bought the ball again up the left and nutmegged Courtois a second time.

And, insofar because it wasn’t already, that was that. By no means thoughts that Antonio Rudiger headed a ball off Barca’s crossbar within the ninetieth minute.

Extra embarrassment for Chelsea. Extra glory for one more particular incarnation of this Barca staff.

For all of the ache this season has introduced Chelsea, Barca is as soon as once more on tempo for an all-time marketing campaign. Regardless of an inexplicable 5-1 Supercopa de Espana loss to Actual Madrid to open the yr, it has reached the Copa del Rey remaining – the place it can face Sevilla on April 21 – and has constructed out an eight-point lead in La Liga with 10 video games to play. It has but to lose within the league. Or in Europe.

Barca has now made it to the quarterfinals of the glamorous continental competitors for an eleventh season in a row. The difficulty is, after profitable it in 2015, Barca has not made it previous the final eight since. In truth, this inarguably dynastic staff has received the Champions League simply as soon as in six seasons, whereas arch-rivals Actual Madrid have lifted it 3 times within the final 4 years.

To state the very apparent, profitable the Champions League is difficult. It’s a matter of a handful of touches and bounces. But Barca received it twice in three years and 3 times in six earlier than this quasi-drought. And the historic nature of an undefeated league season would solely be amplified by a European title or certainly one other treble – Barca’s third after 2008-09 and 2014-15.

All of these groups had Lionel Messi in them. And as long as that’s the case, extra trebles appear eminently real looking. As a result of the type of Messi that we noticed on Wednesday, the sort that we’ve seen so many instances, can’t be stopped. Particularly not by a Chelsea staff that has misplaced its method.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports activities soccer columnist and a sports activities communication lecturer at Marist School. Observe him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.



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