Barcelona news: Lionel Messi critics slammed by Ernesto Valverde ahead of Valencia clash | Football | Sport

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Messi has played a pivotal role for Barcelona this season as they’ve looked to secure another La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble.

But he was found wanting on Tuesday night as Valverde’s side crashed out of Europe’s elite club competition against Roma.


Lionel Messi failed to inspire Barcelona as they saw a three-goal first-leg advantage dissolve before their eyes at the Stadio Olimpico.

And his performance drew criticism from the Spanish media, who pointed to his frequent loss of possession and shooting statistics in particular.

Valverde has defended Messi and insisted the 30-year-old still has plenty to motivate him as the season draws to a close.

“He has a lot to win in Barca and Argentina,” said Valverde at Friday’s pre-match press conference.

“I think Messi is the player with the most Champions [League wins] and the statistics they are trying to point out are deceptive.”

Messi is in fact joint-third in the list of players with the most Champions League wins, having tasted success in the competition four times.

Valverde also slammed claims that Messi and Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique confronted him after Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat to Roma.

“I have nothing to say about that mostly because nothing like that happened,” he added.

“The team have reacted well since the game.

“We are in a difficult moment, possibly our second worst of the season after August [and the Supercopa de Espana defeats].

“We lost and we’re out of a competition that we were very excited about and do feel sorry for ourselves and the fans.

“But if we continue to dwell on that game and think about, we will keep losing.

“So now we have to work on our challenges for the season, which we haven’t yet achieved.”

Table-toppers Barcelona have an 11-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid going into Saturday’s clash against Valencia.



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