As Lionel Messi reached a first Champions League semi-final since 2015, his great rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, failed to reach the last four since 2010. Barcelona sauntered past Manchester United with a 4-0 aggregate win, Messi turning on the style with two goals in a 3-0 second leg win at Camp Nou. But Ronaldo, signed by Juventus last summer having won three successive European Cup crowns with Real Madrid to lead the Bianconeri's Euro obsession, faltered.
Leading 1-0 on the night, Juve contrived to crash to a 3-2 defeat to Ajax, the Dutch side running out deserved winners in Turin. After leading his side to victory, Messi was informed that Ronaldo and Juventus had crashed out and was asked about the Italian side's exit. “That tells you everything [about the competition]" said Messi.
"Any team is complicated, be it Liverpool or Porto [who Barcelona will face in the last four]. There are those who deserve, the best, and everything is going to be complicated.” Messi’s double against United took the 31-year-old to 45 goals in all competitions this term. And Barca boss Ernesto Valverde lauded his skipper post-game, telling Movistar: "Messi always appears. Not only in moments, but in the games as a whole. He scores but is also the offensive weight of our team."
Barca, looking for a sixth European Cup, enter the semi-finals for the first time since winning the trophy under Luis Enrique. But Valverde played down suggestions his side are now favourites for the trophy. "We have done two good games. That is what you have to do to be able to continue in the Champions League and that you consider us more or less favourites," he said.
"We are well. We are confident for the next tie against a great rival and for that we have 10 or 15 days left. We would like to reach the final."