¡Doblete de Messi para sentenciar al Liverpool! (ES)

The 'Messi factor' destroys a good Liverpool side

OPINION

@ErnestFolch

A SPECIAL NIGHT

It was one of those nights that will last forever in the memory of supporters. Barça put one foot in the Champions League final which will take place in Madrid later this month. It was a contest that was a lot more even than the scoreline suggests but Barça have two key factors in their favour. First, the team is capable of withstanding a lot of pressure in defence. Second, they have Lionel Messi. He's the wildcard that impacts every match, regardless of the opponent.

Barça were pegged back by Liverpool for more than an hour of the match. Liverpool were in control, Barça defended well, Liverpool had the possession, Barça needed to respond on the counterattack. Yet Liverpool fell into the trap so many others have previously and they believed a victory was forthcoming. It wasn't. That's because a team which has been built by Ernesto Valverde knows how to absorb such pressure and, if they do that properly, they'll win.

It was in the final stretch of the game, with Liverpool in the ascendancy, Messi appeared to kill off his opponents. It's happened so many times now that you might believe this team needs to be on the brink of defeat before they connect with that killer blow. What is unquestionable is this side suffers more than most at the Camp Nou. They lost the ball and were miles away from their previous identity last night but the fans will forgive all that now.

MESSI IS THE LEADER ON AND OFF THE PITCH

Messi doesn't only score goals and win titles, but he's also the man who protects the team from all sides. He did that last night on the pitch but also off it in an interview with Ricardo Rosety for Movistar. He told supporters not to whistle at Coutinho despite another uneventful showing from the Brazilian. There's no one with more authority to ask for that than Messi. He's the only person who can make those demands to the home fans. Messi is the leader on and off the pitch.

THE WORLD HAS CASILLAS IN THEIR THOUGHTS

A legend in football give us all an enormous scare. Iker Casillas suffered a heart attack which saw the whole world cross their fingers for the goalkeeper. He calmed fears by later posting a photo of him at the hospital but with a big smile across his face. There was a wave of global support for the former Real Madrid goalkeeper, a player loved and respected by everyone.

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