Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is no doubt one of the game’s greatest players and a major global icon. His multiple records in the game are testament to the fact that the diminutive player has paid his dues.
The 34 year-old boasts of several laurels and accolades which includes seven Balon d’Or crowns and four UEFA Champions League titles amongst others. But Messi is currently on a long barren spell of having not lifted Europe’s biggest club prize and Wednesday’s capitulation by French giants PSG to Spanish La Liga opposition Real Madrid meant that he has now gone seven years without getting close to the “Big Ears” trophy.
Messi’s long-term association with Barcelona came to an end last summer when the Catalan-based side could not register their all-time top scorer due to their terrible financial situation, which set the ball rolling for the chain of events that followed which saw PSG swoop the Argentinean on a mega free transfer.
It was widely believed that with Messi’s signature for the French capital outfit, the Parisiens would finally land the one title that they have craved and has eluded them, despite the influx of some of the world’s best players plus the arrivals and exits of some top coaches.
The closest PSG has ever come to winning European club football’s top prize was in the 2019/2020 season where they finished runners-up to German Bundesliga side Bayern Munich, but their 3-2 aggregate defeat to Madrid means the chase for the Holy Grail continues.
Now back to Messi, on footballing terms, he has FAILED in delivering the UCL crown to PSG – which was the major reason he was signed alongside the likes of Sergio Ramos (who has barely played), Gini Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, Gigi Donnarumma, etc.
Messi’s 2021/2022 season has paled in contrast with previous campaigns where he would come up with goals and assists in double figures. This campaign has seen Messi score just TWO goals in Ligue 1, although he may be leading the assists charts with 10 and has managed to find the back of the net in Europe five times. It is presumed that Ligue 1 was never the intention of the Qatari-owned club in bringing in the megastar as that was something they had always won irrespective of the playing and coaching personnel in their ranks.
Since Messi last hoisted the UCL with a treble-winning effort with Barcelona under the management of Luis Enrique in 2015, he has come up short in the last seven seasons. In the 2015/2016 season, Barcelona’s run to the quarter-final against Atlético Madrid had progressed without much incident and when a Suárez brace gave them a 2-1 advantage going into the second leg, the Catalans seemed destined for an eighth semi-final in nine years. But Diego Simeone’s side were well worth their 2-0 victory as Antoine Griezmann’s goals settled a bitty, ill-tempered contest. Messi was oddly quiet on the night – failing to register a shot on target or even a touch in Atléti’s box throughout the 90 minutes as the holders meekly bowed out.
In the 2016/2017 campaign, Barca fell 3-0 to Juventus in the first leg of the quarter-finals in Turin and settled for a goalless draw in the return leg in Catalonia. In the 2017/2018 season, Barca with Messi had taken a commanding 4-1 first leg lead from the Camp Nou to the Stadio Olimpico to face Italian Serie A side AS Roma in the second leg but alas…the Catalans capitulated 3-0 to bow out on the away goals rule.
The 2018/2019 saw Messi and Barca’s collapse reach epic levels. They had seen off Premier League side Liverpool 3-0 in the opening leg at the Camp Nou – with Messi scoring a delightful freekick but the second leg at Anfield was something else. The Reds who were without their influential talisman Mo Salah came from behind to beat Barca 4-0 courtesy of goals from Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum.
The 2019/2020 season saw Messi and Barca top their group with 14 points ahead of the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Slavia Prague before going on to eliminate Napoli 4-2 on aggregate in the Round-of-16 stages. The Coronavirus pandemic which had its rippling effect on the world’s economy and way of life (football inclusive), meant that the remainder of that year’s competition was played in a neutral venue in Lisbon, Portugal. It was here that Barca suffered the worst defeat in her European club competition history by succumbing to an embarrassing 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the last-eight.
In the 2020/2021 campaign, Messi and Barca lost out on aggregate to PSG in the Round of 16 stages. The Argentine had scored a superb goal in the second leg in Paris which ended 1-1, but the La Liga side was not able to overturn a heavy 4-1 first-leg deficit and exited the competition on the back of a 5-2 aggregate loss to the French giants.
The 2021/2022, season saw Messi now with PSG suffer a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Round-of-16. They had claimed the first leg 1-0 in Paris but fell 3-1 in the return fixture at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid to bid farewell to the competition.