On paper, there’s nothing left for Lionel Messi to achieve with Barcelona. Spanish champion, Champions League titles, Pichichi awards, goal records, FIFA awards and Ballon d’Ors. And yet with the impossible second leg in the Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich coming up, he has a chance to accomplish his greatest feat ever.
Messi has scored four goals in one match against Arsenal. He has scored five goals in one match against Bayer Leverkusen. The only player with two four-goal performances in the competition, and the only player with a five-goal match in the Champions League. Pretty soon, he’ll be the all-time leading scorer in it.
Bayern Munich are a different kind of beast than anything Barcelona have faced over the last few years. Better than anything they’ve encountered. They’ve conceded only 14 league goals this season in Germany. They finished their meeting with Juventus in two 2-0 wins. Barcelona didn’t manage to trouble Manuel Neuer once during their visit to the Allianz Arena. Expecting them to come back from a 4-0 crushing is foolish thinking.
But things happen. An early goal or two, and suddenly the pressure can get even to the most confident of players. Bayern Munich nearly let their fabulous performance in London against Arsenal go to waste, losing 2-0 at home in the second leg, qualifying only due to an extra away goal Arsenal never managed to find.
But that was complacency, right? Bayern won’t underestimate anyone again, especially not on the road, at the Camp Nou, against Barcelona. And yet, maybe it’s the fear factor Barcelona have slowly installed in the rest of Europe (except for Chelsea and Real Madrid) over the last few seasons, but no one is willing to 100% say Bayern are through to the final.
Strange things happen, and Lionel Messi is one of a kind. Despite everything he has done up to this point in his career, pulling Barcelona from their figurative grave and making history by doing the impossible, will be his greatest accomplishment yet. Make no mistake, if Messi won’t be the one to take them there, no one will.