Messi magic takes Barca Copa del Rey final
Sports Desk:Barcelona coach Luis Enrique admitted missed chances leave his side with still some work to do to reach a fourth consecutive Copa del Rey final despite taking a 2-1 semi-final, first leg lead over Atletico Madrid.
Sensational strikes from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi had Barca cruising at half-time at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.
However, Antoine Griezmann pulled a goal back for an inspired Atletico after the break before Neymar blasted over a huge chance to restore Barca’s two-goal lead.
‘If we had been more efficient with the quality we have in this team, we could have taken our chances better and had a different second leg,’ said Enrique.
Barca will also be without Neymar for the return leg on Tuesday as he picked up his third yellow card in the Cup this season late on.
‘We knew we had to score here,’ said Suarez.
‘That was important and we got two, but it is not at all over.’
It was a tale of two halves as Barca dominated in the first 45 minutes with Suarez’s sensational solo run and finish after seven minutes added to by Messi’s thunderous 20-yard strike.
‘I think we started the tie very well, knowing how difficult it is to play here at the Calderon,’ added Enrique.
‘We made sure they couldn’t create any attacks, we kept the ball in their half, created a lot of chances and were very efficient.
‘In the second-half, given the result, Atletico had to attack. They pressed us much more and caused a lot more problems.
‘But it would be naive or ridiculous to think you can come here and not suffer.’
Big game Messi
Messi was once again a class apart as he constantly pulled the Atletico defence apart on top of firing home his 30th goal in 29 games this season.
‘The big games are when you see the best Leo Messi,’ added Enrique.
‘He showed us his full repetoire. His dribbling, generating superiority in midfield, giving assists and scoring goals. There are few new superlatives for Messi.’
Four previous two-legged ties between these sides over the past three seasons had been split two apiece.
And Atletico looked far more like the side that Diego Simeone has made a serial contender for trophies over the past five years after the introduction of Fernando Torres at half-time.
‘We spoke at half-time and I think in the second-half we got close to the team we have always been,’ said Simeone.
‘I am left with that positive feeling. We were close to a draw, we fronted up against all the difficulties we faced in the first-half.’
However, for all his achievements, Simeone is yet to win at the Camp Nou as Atletico boss and is aware the odds are very much against Los Rojiblancos reaching the final.
‘I don’t know what percentage chance we have,’ he added.
‘Even if it is 20 per cent, we will give everything we have to make that 20 per cent count.’