Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has explained how tough it’s been to play without fans within the last year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, likening the experience to a training session.
Barcelona captain Messi told newspaper Marca yesterday “It’s horrible to play without fans, it is a very ugly sensation,”. After receiving the ‘Pichichi’ award for the highest scorer in La Liga last season.
“Seeing no-one within the stadium is sort of a training session and it’s very tough to essentially get going at the beginning of a game.”
The new normal of football in empty stadiums has certainly taken its toll on Messi and Barca.
The Catalans had 11 games to travel and were top of La Liga when last season was disrupted by the pandemic. In the end, they surrendered the title to Real Madrid when play resumed in empty stadiums.
They then suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich within the Champions League in an empty Estadio da Luz in Lisbon in August.
This season they need made their worst start in 33 years and are currently fifth in La Liga, way off the pace of leaders Atletico Madrid, while they didn’t finish top in their Champions League group for the primary time since 2006.
Messi’s worst season
The 33-year-old Messi meanwhile, has his worst individual season since the 2007/08 campaign. With scoring only nine goals all told competitions, five of which are penalties.
“The truth is it’s extremely ugly, and that is why we are seeing such evenly matched games. It is very difficult to win, irrespective of who you’re playing against,” Messi added.
“The pandemic has caused football to vary lots, and for the more severe. You’ll be able to see it within the matches, and that I hope this all ends soon and that we can get fans back to the stadiums and return to normality.”
Supporters are absent from Spanish top-flight games since March. However, they are setting themselves to return from April. Once an outsized section of the population has received vaccines to guard against the virus.
According to Spanish media, the primary game with fans is going to be last season’s postponed Copa del Rey final. Which is between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao, due to happen on April 4.
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