Don’t shoot the artist: Messi was the best of Barcelona

In today’s football there is no place for analysis, everything is black or white. Especially for figures like Lionel Messi, about whom there is no shades of grey. He’s either the best, or he fails miserably. Like on Tuesday at Anfield, where apparently, he didn’t contribute, he didn’t appear.

You’re going to have to forgive me for not going along with such a line of thinking, because I thought he was the best Barcelona player on the pitch – next to Arturo Vidal.

It’s not that he played an exceptional game, but his performance was far from the disaster that has been read and heard almost everywhere. Whilst his team had some structure, he made opportunities for three of his teammates against Alisson – Philippe Coutinho, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez – and it forced the Brazilian into two good saves.

That’s not a bad return when your team is so badly outplayed. Then, with 4-0 on the scoreboard, he ended up getting depressed. With Barcelona a broken unit that didn’t have any structure, he didn’t have a chance.

Was there really such a difference between Messi’s performance in the first leg and the return leg? Yes, at the Camp Nou he scored an impossible freekick, but at Anfield he generated as many chances, if not more, than in Catalonia.

His performance in Rome was disastrous, but it wasn’t in Merseyside. He was the least culpable in the defeat, although it seems otherwise. Don’t shoot the artist.