Former France coach Raymond Domenech has been damning in his assesment of Lionel Messi’s performance during Barcelona’s astonishing comeback against Paris Saint-Germain as the Catalans became the first club to overcome a 4-0 first leg deficit in the Champions League and go through to the quarterfinals 6-5 on aggregate. This is what Domenech had to say:
“The worst Barcelona player in this game, it was [Messi]. He was in the centre of the pitch, like when he does not want to run,” he said “His bad games, he’s always doing that, he’s coming down, he believes he organises, he wants to do everything.I think he’s at the end, but he gave so much, he was so magical. He was on and off, he was missing.
Leo Messi was unusually quite against PSG – although he did score a penalty, embark on the dribble that lead to the foul from which Neymar scored with his stunning freekick and lited that gorgoeus pass from which Luis Suarez controversially won the key penalty at the fag end of the game. The French coach, who enjoyed a journeyman career at best in Ligue 1, was however full of praise for Messi’s teammates. Neymar was breathtaking because he fought, he believed, saying that he was attacking until the end. Though, he did give a backhanded compliment to the Urguyuan by saying that he should wear boxing gloves!
In our opinion Messi’s performance, while not upto his usual standards, was different in the sense that he recognised that he couldn’t win the game on his own and gave up the freedom on the ball he would have enjoyed on the wings to come inside and free up Neymar. While he surely could have performed better, this was in no way an indication that Messi is on the wane. Domenech, though, is unlikely to be quited by such things as cold, hard, logic.
If anyone is losing it, it’s Domenech. But the manager who presided over the worst dressing room breakdown of all time with the French national team, probably never really had it. While he has certain valuable insights regarding how Messi took a backseat in the epic comeback, there really seems to be no sense to the allegations of Messi losing his gifts.