Lionel Messi insists the pain of Barcelona's semi-final collapse against Liverpool in last season's Champions League still lingers, but has pointed the finger at the club's defeat to Roma from the season before as one of the main reasons for their Anfield nightmare.
Leading 3-0 from the first leg in Spain, La Blaugrana travelled to England with a commanding aggregate score but fell to one of the tournament's greatest ever comebacks, losing 4-0 on the night (4-3 on aggregate) and crashing out of Europe's elite competition in devastating fashion.
A brace each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum settled the contest on a dramatic night, but the Argentine forward claims that it was his own side's failings that ultimately cost them dearly.
Messi also claimed the 4-4 aggregate defeat to Roma in the quarter-final stage of the season prior played a crucial role, when Barça surrendered a 4-1 first-leg lead to lose 3-0 in Rome.
“The defeat against Liverpool was our fault, what happened to us could not happen because we came from the previous year with Rome. We blocked ourselves," he told RAC1, as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.
The aftermath of the match saw manager Ernesto Valverde come under severe criticism, with calls for the Spaniard to be relieved of his duties reaching fever pitch, such was the embarrassment of their defeat. That, however, was unjust from Messi's point of view, who insisted that Barcelona's failings were not down to the manager's involvement.
"The game in Rome came to our head and we were getting worse, but it didn’t happen because of the coach. It was not my decision either for him to stay, as it has been said," he added. "The club decided that Valverde would continue and for me and for the whole team it is a joy, which we support.”
The new Champions League campaign has started well for La Liga's current champions, who secured a hard-fought 0-0 draw away at Borussia Dortmund before coming from behind to beat Inter 2-1 at the Camp Nou in their second fixture. Barcelona will be hoping to reach the final of the competition for the first time since 2015, when they overcame Juventus 3-1 to lift the trophy.
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