Barcelona’s failure to qualify for the Champions League final, thanks to a 3-2 aggregate loss against Chelsea has cracked open the door for a new Ballon d’Or king to be crowned come 2013.
The Catalan giants could only manage a 2-2 draw against the London side who had beaten them by Didier Drogba’s solitary goal at Stamford Bridge in the first leg match-up the previous week.
It has been a week to forget for the Blaugrana by any standards. After losing to Chelsea in the first leg encounter, they lost 2-1 at home to their ultimate nemesis Real Madrid in the last El Classico encounter you will see this season. The loss ended their lean hopes of winning their fourth successive Liga BBVA title as Real Madrid are 7 points to the good with only 12 to wrestle for.
Barca’s failure to get a positive result from any of their last three games has been defined by the inability of their star player Lionel Messi to get on the scoresheet. It’s not easy to shut out the mercurial Argentine in 90 minutes of football. Doing so for over 270 minutes is unthinkable. But that’s exactly what has happened.
So much a hero and the Roy of Rovers for the Catalan club, Messi was the villain on Thursday night riffling a penalty against the crossbar, the eighth time he’s missed from 12 yards for Pep Guardiola’s side in 34 spot kicks.
His latest miss, however, proved much costly. Costly to the club, and costly to him as well. The club missed a chance to reach the finals and perhaps become the first ever team in Champions League era to defend title. On a personal note, Messi will surely not be crowned the FIFA Ballon d’Or player of the year.
This is in spite of having a record-breaking season for Barcelona, one that saw him become Europe's all-time topscorer in a single season, and one that saw him eclipse Cesar Rodriguez as the Barcelona’s all-time record goalscorer. That was just but a highlight of many highs the No. 10 has achieved this season, including becoming the first player in Champions League history to score a quintuple of goals in a single Champions League match in the 7-1 rout over Bayer Leverkusen.
Add to the fact that he became only the second player after Filippo Inzaghi to score three hat-tricks in the Champions League and the first to score two hat-tricks in one season in the competition and you could clearly see why he was on the driving seat for world football’s most prestigious individual award, the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
But how quick things do change. In just three games but arguably the biggest in Barca’s season, Messi flopped and that’s not a word you would regularly use to describe the Argentine. Of course he hit the post against Chelsea twice but that’s a statistic that will be overlooked when the coaches and captains of international teams as well as journalists from around the world will be voting for the winner.
Messi will surely make the top-three cut for the award after his imperious season with the 21-time La Liga Champions. But winning it for the fourth season in a row after failing in the last hurdle both at home and abroad would be an injustice that would measure a level higher than when Wesley Sneijder was overlooked for the 2010 award.
The man who could walk away with it is the one who he gets mentioned with in the same breath when you think of the best player in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward leads the Pichichi race as well as the European football scoring chat and should Madrid go ahead and win the La Liga, as many expect them to, and at least reach the Champions League final, CR7 will be a worthy winner.
Arsenal's Robin Van Persie will also probably get the nod but for the lack of even a 'mickey-mouse' domestic cup to show for his form this season, he won't be a favourite while Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez will also be a good bet should he steer his team to the May 19 Allianz Arena finals, and score.
And That's thesteifmastertake!!