Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has spoken out on PSG’s Champions League exit, insisting he sent words of encouragement to ex-teammate Lionel Messi.
Speaking to the media ahead of Barcelona’s La Liga clash against Osasuna (h/t MARCA), manager Xavi Hernandez revealed that he had sent a message to former teammate Lionel Messi after PSG crashed out of the UEFA Champions League earlier this week.
PSG were drawn against Barcelona’s arch-rivals, Real Madrid, in the Round of 16, a tie that Messi would have relished. And Les Parisiens were in a good position in the tie after winning the first leg 1-0 last month, riding on a late strike from Kylian Mbappe.
And when the Frenchman opened the scoring at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg earlier this week, PSG looked set to eliminate Real Madrid and progress to the quarter-finals of the competition. However, that was not to be, as the French giants capitulated in the second half, as Karim Benzema’s magnificent hat-trick fired Los Blancos to a sensational comeback win, sending Messi and PSG crashing out.
Messi could not make standout contributions in the home and away legs against Real Madrid as his wait for a Champions League trophy continued. Barcelona manager Xavi, a close friend of the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, admitted to having sent him a message of encouragement after the events at the Bernabeu.
Xavi: “I sent Messi a message of encouragement and support after the game against Real Madrid. This is football, after taking the lead, in 25 minutes, and because of the intensity and pressure of Real Madrid, everything changed.” pic.twitter.com/HCN5VVnq1v
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) March 12, 2022
“I have sent my encouragement to Messi,” Xavi said, as quoted by MARCA. “These are football situations, Real Madrid turned it around with faith and desire and won the tie. The Champions League is like that. It happens to us too. If you lower the intensity, they can beat us.”
Messi had been very confident of PSG’s chances of going all the way in the Champions League this term. But he will have to wait for another year to have a bite at the cherry again. He might have to do so without some of his current teammates as Kylian Mbappe is closing in on a transfer to Real Madrid, while there have been speculations that the Parisian outfit are also considering parting ways with Neymar.
A managerial change also looks likely at Parc des Princes, with Mauricio Pochettino being tipped to take over at Manchester United before next season.