Barcelona’s over-reliance on Lionel Messi in European competition has been brought to light after it emerged that their second highest-goalscorer over the past two seasons in the Champions League is own goals.
Messi trails only Cristiano Ronaldo in the list of the Champions League’s all-time leading goalscorers, and he has added to his tally with 18 strikes over the past two seasons – including 12 during their run to the last-four this year.
But despite boasting a squad that includes the likes of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and £96million-signing Ousmane Dembele, no other Barca player comes anywhere close to matching their Argentine talisman.
Worryingly for coach Ernesto Valverde, the Blaugrana’s second highest scorer in European football’s elite competition is, in fact, own goals, who have aided the Spanish champions’ cause on six occasions.
Dembele is third with four, defender Gerard Pique is tied with Coutinho on three after that while Suarez has only managed two – the same as midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
BARCA’S EUROPEAN TOP GOALSCORERS
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has propelled the Catalans on the continent in recent years and he scored twice in the first leg of their semi-final with Liverpool at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona were subsequently humiliated at Anfield on Tuesday, suffering a stunning 4-0 defeat to forego a 3-0 aggregate advantage.
Messi told Barcelona fans at the beginning of the season that he wanted to mark his first season as captain by lifting the Champions League trophy, but their embarrassing defeat has left the club’s dressing room demoralised.
The 31-year-old’s miserable night was reportedly compounded after the match when Messi squared up to angry fans who confronted him at John Lennon Airport, according to Mundo Deportivo.
At the airport’s security checkpoint, a small group of fans are said to have confronted Messi and the player had to be dragged away to avoid a more serious situation.
It was also reported that a separate group of Barcelona fans applauded their hero, coming to the defence of the player despite an awful evening on the pitch.