That was the extent the Argentine and the Barcelona assault reached right here. A better and superior aspect picked Liverpool off for a calculated 3-Zero win that absolutely kills the tie and places the Catalans on the point of a primary Champions League last in 4 years.
That the victory was topped with probably the most impossibly angled free-kick from Messi was becoming, as a result of it summed up the calculation of the Barca efficiency, one which was initially charged by former Anfield hero Luis Suarez opening the scoring.
Liverpool didn’t actually deserve that type of defeat and definitely shouldn’t take a lot disgrace in it, however that’s additionally the actual level. That is what this stage is all about. That is what profitable prizes and reaching the top line moderately than simply going the gap is all about.
This ought to be one other a part of the staff’s schooling moderately than something to get too deflated about, since Messi delivered yet one more footballing lesson. As a result of this was a win principally about him.
His deep need to win that fifth private Champions League – and sixth for Barcelona – has been distilled into shows like this, and culminated in that 600th profession objective.
What was all of the extra remariable on condition that resultant chasm was that it was for thus lengthy a type of absorbingly tight video games, however between two sides who so exhilaratingly stretched the pitch. This was the place a lot of the invigorating stress was as each groups regarded to consistently comprise but additionally explosively counter, which means it was a recreation at all times on edge. And never simply by way of the play. There was an growing chew to the match, particularly after Messi felt James Milner had deliberately barged him off the pitch. That in all probability had an unintended impact, if Milner did imply it. It invigorated Messi for what was to come back.
It’s the immense energy of the Argentine’s gravitational pull that solely pushed the match additional out to the bounds, as a result of all play is formed round him, due to the deep affect mere consciousness of his presence has.
Liverpool gave the impression to be attempting a system whereby they initially had three defenders instantly closing in on him when he received inside 30 yards of objective, however that then induced the issue of making house elsewhere. Messi after all discovered it.
There was at all times that sense the play was simply on the brink, and it nonetheless required Andy Robertson to push himself to the restrict with probably the most sensational of last-second blocks to come back out of nowhere and forestall Messi opening the scoring.
It wasn’t utterly comfy on the different finish, although. Barca do have an method the place the precise talents of their defenders means they’re equally prepared to play on the road, however that at all times appears so notably harmful towards an assault with the tempo of Liverpool’s.
The tactical dilemma for Liverpool was how far to push this, as a result of Messi’s partnership with Suarez meant Barca have been simply extra able to turning defence into assault in a matter of seconds.
Barca did really feel that bit extra managed then, even on the tempo the match was being performed at. A lot of this got here collectively for that thunderbolt of a gap objective.
In a flash, they have been forward.
Jordi Alba fizzed within the excellent supply and, with Virgil van Dijk of all individuals caught out for a mere millisecond, Suarez had sufficient to only information it into the online.
That was a part of a spell the place Barcelona simply regarded so sharp, and virtually each one-touch transfer was placing them in.
The frustration for Liverpool was they did then reply to this with resolve, having fun with in all probability their finest spell of the sport.
It actually examined Barca’s typically stunning willingness to sit down on the elasticity of their centre-halves and threat stress, to not point out the solidity of their No 1.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen simply is perhaps the most effective goalkeeper on the earth, as he illustrated with so many reliable saves, after which two good ones – particularly to maintain out Milner.
It didn’t at all times appear the steadiest of floor, however was in the end probably the most extremely calculated of gameplans. This simply supplied the platform for probably the most cutting-edge counter-attack in Europe.
Not for the primary time, Liverpool discovered themselves with out even the time to second-guess Barca’s forwards. They have been simply too fast. Even Van Dijk was once more discovered wanting as Suarez was put in; he put the ball onto the bar, and Messi so simply put it into the online.
The coup de grace was nonetheless to come back. It’s the biggest testomony to Messi that he made that look as simple as his tap-in, regardless of producing an angle of trajectory that’s absolutely near unattainable.
That’s how good he’s. That’s how devastating he was.
There was one late flurry for Liverpool as Salah was virtually caught out when offered with a nice late probability, reacting too late so he might solely hit the submit.
The seconds mattered. The inches mattered. Messi confirmed them why.