Lionel Messi has issued a warning to Barcelona that if they don’t improve and make changes, they’ll end up empty-handed as the Champions League is now their priority.
The Catalan giants were left disappointed this week as their loss to Osasuna coupled with Real Madrid’s win over Villarreal ensured that the La Liga title heads to the Bernabeu this season.
In turn, their focus will now switch to the Champions League next month, where their round-of-16 tie with Napoli is finely poised at 1-1 after the first leg.
Messi, 33, has had another superb season on an individual level having scored 28 goals and provided 25 assists in 41 appearances for Barcelona, but he has warned his side that if they don’t react in the right way and make the necessary changes, they will come up short against Napoli too and will risk winning nothing this season.
“We must be self-critical, starting with the players, but across the whole club,” he told the media, as reported by Sport. “Madrid won all their games but we are Barcelona and we’re obliged to win every game. We have to look at ourselves, not the opposition, and the performances in recent games have left a lot to be desired.
“I said a while ago continuing as we were it would be hard to win the Champions League and it’s not been enough to win La Liga. And if we don’t react and make changes we will not beat Napoli.”
Time will tell if they can regroup and get past Napoli first of all, but with the level of competition in Europe so high, they will need to improve significantly compared to their recent form domestically if they are to land another European crown.
Messi will undoubtedly be integral to their hopes of ending the campaign on a high note, but the Argentine icon is clearly fully aware that the team as a whole needs to show more quality if they are to bounce back from their disappointment this week and keep their hopes of silverware alive this season.
Further, it will not just be down to him to see them through, as it ultimately starts with coach Quique Setien and then the rest of the squad to make the necessary changes to ensure that they advance.