On March 1, 2020, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid team shocked FC Barcelona with a 2-0 defeat. An epic El-Clasico lost that has left the Spanish La Liga title hanging between the two clubs. After the match, the talisman of the Nou Camp based team, Lionel Messi was so pained that he had to declare Barcelona not good enough to win the Champions League title this season.
This statement brought criticism against the current world footballer of the year, raising questions about his loyalty to the Spanish club where he has been since he started playing professional football. Critics believe that Messi who is the captain of Barcelona shouldn’t have cast doubts on his team.
However, when the Barcelona forward was speaking to a media outlet ‘Sport’ in Spain on Thursday, he said he made that comment based on the outcome of the last series of games Barcelona played before football was suspended in Spain due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What I said was playing as we did in those final few games before football was suspended, of course, we wouldn’t win the Champions League,” Messi insisted. “I never doubted the squad we have and I don’t doubt we can win everything that’s left, just not playing as we were playing.
“Everyone has their own opinion and all opinions are respected. Mine is based on being lucky enough to play in the Champions League for many years and I know it’s not possible to win it playing as we were playing.”
Messi’s team was about to play the second-leg match of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 against Italian side Napoli before coronavirus halted football. The first-leg match was played in Napoli’s home Stadio San Paolo and ended in a 1-1 draw.
Barcelona is at the top of the Spanish La Liga table with 2 points ahead of the club’s rival Real Madrid. Once La Liga is permitted to resume, the club target will be to remain at the top throughout the remaining 11 fixtures.
Messi believes that the coronavirus break could have benefitted the Barcelona team which suffered a dip in form prior to the suspension of the season. Hence, if La Liga is permitted to resume on June 12 as it is being projected, football fans could be seeing a better Barcelona side.
“Maybe this stoppage will end up benefiting us, but let’s see if the competitions we’re in can get started again first”, Messi said. “Then we will be able to see the level we are at how far we can go once we get started again.”
Coronavirus Lockdown did good for Lionel Messi
On how he scaled through the period of total lockdown at home, Messi said he and his family managed the situation well and used the opportunity of the lockdown to do what they wouldn’t have had the chance to do.
“I was training at home during the lockdown and I think that helped me keep in shape, although training at home is not the same as being at the training ground with the coaching staff taking sessions”, he said. “Obviously it was tough psychologically for everyone because it’s a strange situation.
“But with the support of my family, from my wife and kids at home, I think we managed the situation in the best way possible. We took advantage of the time to do a lot of things together that we can’t normally do because the kids are at school and we also have our obligations.
“So we had a good time together and have been able to enjoy it with the kids, who are growing up so quickly. It was tough but with them and [wife] Antonela we created moments to enjoy as a family together.”