Messi should be awarded the Ballon d’Or tomorrow – MARCA.com

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FC Barcelona vs Liverpool Two moments of brilliance from the ArgentineLionel Messi celebrates his second goal against Liverpool. AFPBarcelona are one step away from the Champions League final after beating Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the semi-final at the Camp Nou.There were times where the Catalans suffered, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen was key in preventing Liverpool from scoring an all-important away goal.As such, Barcelona were able to take advantage – with two moments of Messi brilliance – and they can now start to think about the final at the Wanda Metropolitano, though they must be careful in the second leg at Anfield next week.Messi appeared when the Camp Nou needed him most, forcing the ball over the line for his first and his side’s second before scoring a beautiful free-kick to make it 3-0.The Barcelona captain worked tremendously hard, and even went out of his way to ensure that Philippe Coutinho was not whistled after being taken off by Ernesto Valverde.Messi, as has often been the case down the years, was the most decisive player on the pitch.It wasn’t 4-0 to Barcelona because Ousmane Dembele, a second half substitute, failed to capitalise on a late counter-attack.The Blaugrana flooded men forward after a Liverpool corner, ending up with a three-on-one situation, but Dembele ended up scuffing his shot after being set up by Messi.That goal could have finished the tie.Luis Suarez has no friends on the football pitch, as shown by his celebration against his former club, his first goal in a year in the Champions League.The Uruguayan striker was prepared to go to war against Liverpool, being involved in incidents with Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson and Jordan Henderson, yet none of the aforementioned players were able to prevent Suarez from impacting the game.His goal came after a wonderful cross by Jordi Alba, which he appeared to almost lift over Alisson before wheeling off in celebration.Mohamed Salah was able to cause a few headaches for the Barcelona defence, although his miss in the second half will be the lasting memory of the Egyptian’s performance.Nevertheless, Salah showed that he is still at the level of last year, when he helped lead Liverpool to the Champions League final in Kiev, but he was unable to help the Reds find the back of the net.The 26-year-old will need to be in top form at Anfield next week when the two sides meet again.Sadio Mane had a wonderful opportunity to score an away goal for Liverpool as an exquisite Jordan Henderson pass picked out the Senegalese forward, but he blasted his effort over the bar.The former Southampton man has been in great goalscoring form this season, but he showed a lack of composure after Henderson’s ball had taken Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto out of the play.There were other chances that Liverpool missed, such as James Milner’s, and the players will likely live to rue those miscues.Ter Stegen celebrated his 27th birthday on Tuesday and he was able to party in style on Wednesday night as he was impeccable, both with his hands and his feet.It is such a luxury for Barcelona to have a goalkeeper of his calibre between the sticks as he is guaranteed to bail the side out at least once during the game, while there is Messi who can resolve matters in attack.If Barcelona end up winning the Champions League, Ter Stegen will be a key reason why because he has made some crucial saves at decisive moments in games en route to the second leg of the semi-final.Philippe Coutinho again failed to rise to the occasion, this time against his former club, and he was once again subjected to whistles in the 55th minute as he was substituted.The Brazilian seemed unfocused and anxious on an important night for the Blaugrana as he returned to the tunnel of melancholy.He was replaced by Nelson Semedo and will likely start on the bench at Anfield next Tuesday.
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