1. Messi was somehow capable of getting even better
He took all tension out of this tie and, by this point, he’s taking away on debate. The argument over whether he is the best in the world is long redundant. We should be talking about the best of all time.
It wasn’t just that he decided yet another huge game, consigning Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich to a long list that includes everyone from Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. It was how he did — the cleanness.
It’s so minimalist but brings maximum efficiency. The first goal came at the game’s most demanding point, and was a consequence of the Argentine just imposing his will on the game. It was determination distilled. The second involved hermetically-sealed touches. This match involved maybe the greatest.
2. Messi was also so good it’s hard to see if Guardiola actually got it wrong
Javier Mascherano put it best immediately after his teammate had done it best. “We have Messi.” That was pretty much the difference. Pep Guardiola set his team up surprisingly with just three at the back, leading to an early onslaught, but his switch to four did make the match must more balanced.
It looked like Bayern may just hang on. Then, what Guardiola said on the eve of the game was proven correct. “Messi is unstoppable.” There was no game plan for him. Because of, and of course the 3-0 scoreline, it’s impossible to see how this can be turned around.
How can he chase a game, and leave even more space for Messi to recreate that?
3. Manuel Neuer had both a brilliant night and an awful one
Were it not for the man who came third behind Messi on the Ballon D’Or podium, it could have been even worse for Bayern. Neuer pulled off a series of fine stops and often successfully served as a third centre-half.
His reward for that? To be beaten at his near post, chipped and then nut megged - a goalkeeper’s nightmare.
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