Free Press Journal

Messi still Barcelona’s penalty man despite miss against City


Barcelona: FC Barcelona coach Luis Enrique insisted that Lionel Messi is still the man to take penalties for his side despite the Argenitine’s dramatic last minute miss against Manchester City Tuesday night.

Messi saw his injury time spot kick saved by City goalkeeper Joe Hart and then headed the rebound wide of a virtually empty net in a dramatic end to the first leg of their Champions League tie, reports Xinhua.

Although Barcelona returned home with a convincing 2-1 away win, which obliges their rivals to score twice in the return leg. Had Messi scored his penalty, it would have virtually assured Barcelona’s progress. Also, it would have allowed them to have rested key players just four days before receiving Real Madrid in the La Liga.

“We are very pleased with the result. Penalties are for those who dare to step up and Messi is our penalty taker without a doubt,” said Enrique when asked about the miss.

He insisted that Manchester City still had options of getting back into the tie, adding that Barcelona would have to be at their best in the Camp Nou in three weeks.

“The tie is still open and against an opponent of this quality we must not relax. The aim is to head into the return leg with confidence,” he said.

“The whole team played a great game and I am very pleased with the attitude of the players,” concluded the coach.

Barcelona’s next game is away to Granada at the weekend. With a King’s Cup semifinal the following Wednesday, Enrique will have to think about whether he gives a rest to players such as Messi or Neymar, whose form has dipped over the past couple off matches.