Brazilian legend Ronaldo Nazario believes Lionel Messi must take responsibility for Barcelona’s failures as it would be a “tremendous injustice” to the entire team.
After capping off a standout performance with two late goals in Barcelona’s 3-0 first-leg win over Liverpool in their Champions League semi-final clash at Camp Nou, Messi struggled in the return leg on Tuesday.
The Argentine forward clearly had a forgettable night as the Liverpool defence successfully subdued him at Anfield.
Without Messi at his best, Barcelona ended up crashing to a spectacular 4-0 defeat following Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum’s braces for Liverpool, who progressed to the final with a 4-3 aggregate win.
Following this devasting setback, the likes of Philippe Coutinho were singled out for the blame. Meanwhile, there have been suggestions that Messi deserved better from his team-mates during the match.
But Ronaldo, who won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in his one season at Camp Nou, believes Messi must not escape the blame.
“It is unfair to point the culprits to a defeat,” said Ronaldo, according to Goal.
“I see that Barcelona has a great team and has the best player in the world, which is Messi.
“The other day I read that the other players lost and Barca wins [because of] Messi. It is a tremendous injustice to all the players and the coaching staff.
“Barcelona is a great team with great players and very good coaches. You should be a little more careful with criticism.”
The Real Madrid icon does, though, believe Liverpool deserved to reach the final regardless of Barcelona’s mistake in the build-up to the fourth goal.
Divock Origi was the scorer of the tie-clinching goal in the 79th-minute after Trent Alexander-Arnold caught out the Barcelona defence napping from a corner.
“[Liverpool] had more motivation, intensity and desire,” Ronaldo added.
“In the first part, Barcelona had chances to score a goal that would have changed everything. But Liverpool deserved it. They have shown strength and emotional intelligence.
“In the fourth goal there was a mistake, but I think that if it had not [been scored], it would have arrived in a different way. They played the game of their lives.
“It’s a shame for Barcelona, because they played a great game in the first leg, we all enjoyed Messi.
“It’s a pity that there is not a Spaniard in the final, but Liverpool deserved it more.”