Thursday 19 April 2018

'A bitter night for Messi' - World media reacts to Barcelona's shock exit

Barcelona's Luis Suarez
Barcelona's Luis Suarez

Out-of-sorts Barcelona have been accused of having no "plan B" following their Champions League elimination by Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid.

The European champions will not defend their title in Milan on May 28 after suffering a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Atletico, who won the second leg of their quarter-final 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Barca's lead at the top of the Primera Division has also been slashed to just three points courtesy of back-to-back defeats to Real Sociedad and fierce rivals Real Madrid.

After watching Antoine Griezmann's brace carry Atletico into the last four, the world press have accused head coach Luis Enrique and his players of lacking a back-up plan when things go awry.

"They have a coach without a plan B and are lacking the magic of a messiah," read damning analysis in El Mundo. "The poor embraced faith to scatter the rich, Barca, who collapsed at the Calderon."

Brazilian website Globoesporte said the Catalans "put a lot of balls into the area, but offered very little creatively".

Argentinian daily Ole claimed Atleti's triumph was "more than deserved" and criticised their own home-grown striker Lionel Messi for not knowing "how to deal with the home team".

Simeone's Atletico side drew high praise, both in Spain and abroad, for "attacking Barcelona's jugular".

"What belief. What emotion," said Marca. "Atletico Madrid have made history by knocking out the European champions."

El Pais wrote: "Atletico indisputable, Barca depressed. This is Atletico's moment. Somehow, El Cholo (Simeone) has become to Atletico what Johan Cruyff was to Barcelona.

"Barca's football has regressed over the last few weeks. Barca would have never imagined dropping out of the European Cup until being beaten by (Real) Madrid in El Clasico."

La Gazzetta dello Sport of Italy labelled the result as "the fall of gods".

It wrote: "A great night for Simeone, who was able to celebrate after suffering seven defeats to Barca in the league and Copa del Rey, but a bitter night for Messi and company."

Catalan publication Mundo Deportivo said "a Barcelona without recourse have tumbled out of the Champions League.

"They did nothing in those final minutes to show they were aspiring to win another treble.

"Not a good night for Barca fans' hearts, as their team were on the brink and fighting an uphill battle for most of the game."

Diario Sport were among the few voices claiming Luis Enrique's men had been hard done by, writing: "It should not be this way.

"When everything looked to have been decided, then came the scandal. (Referee Nicola) Rizzoli did not award a penalty for what looked like a clear handball from Gabi."

In France there were plaudits for Griezmann, who struck in the 36th minute before converting a penalty with two minutes remaining at the Vicente Calderon.

L'Equipe said of the playmaker from Burgundy: "This is the year of confirmation for Atletico, Griezmann is the leader of a great club."

The Guardian's Sid Lowe had the final word.

"The slogan that hung from bridges and balconies all over Madrid read "Never stop believing" and Atletico never did, even when they might have feared it would be taken from them in the final minute."

Online Editors

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