Lionel Messi admits Barcelona were close to ruining their season with their bad run of results but ‘woke up just in time’ and praised Atletico Madrid.
The Catalans were in danger of missing out on silverware as they slumped from nine points clear of Atletico and 10 ahead of Real Madrid to level with the former and a point ahead of the latter, and though Los Colchoneros are out of the title race, they did knock Barca out of the Champions League.
“That was a hard blow. In the first game we were far superior and could have settled the tie. Then, it’s very difficult playing against a team like Atletico as visitors with what they do. It’s complicated,” Messi recalled in an interview with ESPN, AS reports.
“The truth is, Atletico are a very uncomfortable team. There’s a lot of merit to what [Diego Simeone] does, he makes his players believe in what they do and they do it practically to perfection. They have very good players, not only in defence.
“We had enough points in La Liga when we had this slump. It was after the internationals and coincided with the games against Atletico. We lost a lot of points. We woke up in time. Fortunately we still depend on ourselves.
“Winning two out of three trophies would be something spectacular. We have two finals, and it would be great to win them. We all like the Champions League, but it wasn’t to be this time.”
Barca could have won the title last weekend, if they beat Espanyol and the Madrid clubs lost, but while La Blaugrana were victorious in the Catalan derby – Messi opening the scoring with a free-kick – and Atleti were beaten at Levante, Madrid beat Valencia, and Messi recalled his dead ball goal.
“I like to put them above the wall but occasionally I try to change it too. Sunday’s was just right, not too close and not too far for the arc of the ball. That distance was ideal for the ball to have room to drop,” he pointed out.