Barcelona striker Lionel Messi gave his first press conference in four years ahead of his side’s Copa Del Rey final on Saturday and admitted that the Champions League loss to Liverpool is still on his mind.
The Catalan giants were defeated in dramatic circumstances during the European Cup semi-final as, despite going into the second leg at Anfield with a 3-0 lead, they capitulated and were defeated by 4-0 as they crashed out in devastating fashion.
Messi, club captain since the departure of Andres Iniesta last summer, had not given a press conference for Barcelona since May 5, 2015, before Friday afternoon’s media address.
The striker first admitted that the defeat was a massive blow for the club but was keen to stress that the blame lies at the feet of the players and not manager Ernesto Valverde, who has come under criticism following the performance.
“It was a really big blow which we received at Anfield – me and all the dressing room felt it,” said the Argentina international.
“It was tough to get back up, you saw that in the next game we had to play. It was a really tough blow. Now have the chance to win a double and end the season on a high note.
“I haven’t seen much of the criticism of the manager, and sincerely I think (Ernesto) Valverde has done an impressive job all the time he’s been here. In the game against Liverpool he was hardly to blame for anything. We as the players are to blame.”
Messi was confirmed as the winner of the 2018/2019 European Golden Shoe last night following Kylian Mbappé’s single goal for PSG in defeat to Stade Reims meant that the Argentine took the crown with 36 goals.
The Barca captain was speaking before he was confirmed as the winner during his press conference but he admitted that the accolade wasn’t in his head, instead, it was the defeat to Liverpool that he was still thinking about.
“Honestly I am not even thinking about the European Golden Shoe. Not in my head at all.
“What happened at Liverpool is in my head, like I said it was a big blow and I am not thinking about personal things, just getting to this Copa final and winning another trophy.”