Lionel Messi helped book Barcelona’s place in the Champions League quarter-finals against Chelsea, with Antonio Conte seen in discussion with him after the game.
The Argentine icon scored twice in a 3-0 win in the second leg at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night, adding to his strike at Stamford Bridge in the first leg as he was a crucial factor in the victory.
Chelsea arguably played better football in the return fixture as they got themselves into plenty of threatening positions throughout the game, but couldn’t take their chances while also hitting the woodwork twice.
In turn, with Barcelona not at their best, they had to rely on Messi to guide them forward, as he has done on countless occasions in the past.
Much was made of the exchange between the Barcelona star and Chelsea boss Conte after the game, with BT Sport commenting on it too, as seen in the tweet below, while Gary Lineker joked in the studio that the Italian was ‘tapping him up’.
Antonio Conte can only laugh at how good Lionel Messi is… pic.twitter.com/h8QEEjZLjx
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 14, 2018
Both made an attempt to cover their mouths for the most part to keep the conversation a secret, but Conte was in a sharing mood in his post-match press conference it seems.
“What did I say to Messi at the end of the game? I congratulated him, because he is a player who continues to make the difference in an obvious way, he influences the results and also in these two games he has been decisive,” he is quoted as saying by Sky Sport Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.
It’s difficult to disagree with Conte’s assessment of Messi’s impact. However, from a Barcelona perspective, they’ll surely all have to play much better moving forward if they have aspirations of winning the Champions League this year.
While Messi can undoubtedly make the difference at any moment, it’s a risky strategy to rely on him every time, especially with the quality of opposition remaining in the competition and so the team as a whole has to play better.