In the 45th minute, the two teams were tied with each other. The referee awarded “Barcelona” a penalty kick. The savior and icon of the team, Lionel Messi, stepped forward to implement it in front of a familiar face: the former Real Madrid goalkeeper, Keylor Navas. Messi scored the penalty kick would give the team tremendous momentum in order to make the impossible comeback. Wasting it would give the French champions the confidence to avenge the embarrassing exit at the hands of the Catalans three years ago.
Messi hit the ball. Navas managed to stop her. Barcelona failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. Barcelona went out, and the image of Messi lamenting that a penalty kick was missed at a pivotal moment in the match remained in mind.
24 hours ago, Juventus, aspiring to win the Champions League for the first time in 25 years, was counting on Cristiano Ronaldo to salvage him from losing 2-1 in the first leg. Juventus advanced by the same score during the regular match time. The match went into overtime. In the 115th minute, “Juventus” goalkeeper Vojciech Cesny made a wall in front of a free kick that was offered to the midfield of Porto Sergio Oliveira. Oliveira hit the ball to pass between Ronaldo’s feet and enter “Juventus” five minutes before the end of extra time. “Juventus” became in need of a miracle of scoring two goals to reach the quarter-finals. Adrian Rabio scored a goal in the 117th minute. “Juventus” waited for the miracle of Ronaldo, who was brought to “Juventus” to help the team achieve its first Champions League titles in a quarter of a century.
But the miracle did not come from Ronaldo. Juventus came out, and the image of Ronaldo turning his back on the ball that had passed between his legs on its way to the goal remained in the minds. For the first time since the 2004-2005 season, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will both miss the Champions League quarter-finals.
It is easy to defend two players, one of whom has won the World Player of the Year 12 times in the last 13 seasons, indicating that they have saved their teams on several occasions. It is certain that the responsibility for the exit of “Juventus” and “Barcelona” from the round of 16 in the Champions League does not rest on the shoulders of Messi and Ronaldo alone. It is also certain that the two players are football stars today. It is enough to look at their numbers. In the UEFA Champions League, Ronaldo and Messi occupy the first and second places for the players scoring the most goals with 134 and 119 goals, 62 and 47 goals respectively from third-placed Robert Lewandowski.
But the question that arises with the early exit of “Barcelona” and “Juventus” from the tournament is: Are Ronaldo and Messi a burden on “Juventus” and “Barcelona”?
No one doubts the value of Messi but a madman. Messi has an innate talent that makes his name appear in any discussion of the identity of the best soccer players in history. In his relatively “bad” season, Messi has scored 25 goals and made 11 in 35 games until this moment while he is playing in the worst version of “Barcelona” since his first appearance in the club’s shirt in 2004. But “Messi’s cost” is very high for “Barcelona”. .
And here, we’re not just talking about the exorbitant cost of his contract. The cost of Messi’s contract, which runs from 2017 to next June, is $ 670 million, at a time when the Catalan club’s debt exceeds $ 1.4 billion. But the cost of Messi being in Barcelona is much greater.
First, the club cannot invest in buying new players as a result of its commitment to fictional payments for one player. Secondly, Messi’s presence in Barcelona has pushed the club to rely on him, gradually, excessively. Yes, Messi managed to save the team repeatedly, covering his great talent on the team’s cracks. However, the Barcelona administration is waiting for Messi to save the team when he is late in any match.
Thirdly, Messi, by virtue of his importance in the team, has tremendous influence in the management, sometimes amounting to interference in the squad and the club’s contracts with new players, and pressure on the club management to dismiss the coach. El País newspaper quotes former Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubisarreta as saying that former coach Gerardo Martino used to say to Messi when he was in Barcelona: “I know that I will be fired from my job as soon as you call the president, but damn it! You don’t need to prove it every day. I know that”.
The same story happens with Ronaldo and “Juventus”.
Juventus has not won the champions’ title since 1996, although the team reached the final of the tournament in the 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 seasons. Athletically, the management of the Italian club built the idea of signing with Ronaldo on the basis that the Portuguese five-time Champions League winner is the specialist the team needs to win the long-awaited title.
Some view Ronaldo’s transfer deal to “Juventus” as a “master stroke” that gives “Juventus” the ability to market the “brand” internationally. In reality, however, the move bound Juventus’ hands and limited its ability to make new contracts.
The cost of contracting Ronaldo, 33 at the time, exceeded $ 100 million. And every year he receives a salary that exceeds the total salaries of the second, third, fourth and fifth highest-paid Juventus players, while the Italian club’s debts amounted to more than 480 million dollars. Ronaldo clashed with his coaches at “Juventus”, Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo, rejecting their decisions to remove him from the stadium.
The logic of the Juventus administration in hiring Ronaldo sums up the whole story. Club president Andrea Agnelli said that the team, which reached the Champions League final twice in four years before Ronaldo’s arrival, would not be “complete” without a “boost shot” in the form of a star “born to win.”
This logic is wrong and its owner does not understand football.
Football is a team game. The teams that outperform others and win championships are the teams that strike a balance between distinguished individuals to create a harmonious team that fights with one heart and common goals. Having a Messi or Ronaldo player gives any team a huge boost to trophy. But the distinguished player turns from an added value to a burden on the team once the role of the players surrounding the “hero” is identified as the role of the stuntmen.
Yes, Messi and Ronaldo won the Champions League nine times, but Messi benefited from the presence of players such as Xavi, Andre Iniesta, Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets and others with him in a golden contract for Barcelona, during which the club was able to attract distinguished players from other clubs and graduate an excellent generation after another from his academy . And Ronaldo would not have won the Champions League five times had he not played alongside the likes of Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria, Casemiro and others.
Some might believe in the existence of an aura above the heads of “winners”, those born to always achieve victories; That he who wins many times in the past is more willing to win in the future. This theory is not true in football, because it attributes victory to a distinguished individual and ignores the context of victories and their multiple causes.