Leo Messi: 'We needed a match like that'
Lionel Messi took to China's social media Tencet Weibo Wednesday to address his fans for the first time since scoring two first-half goals to power Barcelona to a 4-0 Champions League round of 16 win over AC Milan, according to reports.
"I am so happy!" Spanish media reported as his message. "I know that we could get the win. We needed a great match to pass on to the quarterfinal and we did it."
On Tuesday, the club hailed by many as soccer's best-ever faced a challenge no club had overcome: advancing in the Champions League after a 2-0 first-leg loss on the road.
"These days have been difficult," Barcelona assistant Jordi Roura said Tuesday. "My players received undeserved criticism, but they went out and got a good result and proved that they are made of something special.
"One is always surprised by these players, who having won so much, still take a loss so much to heart."
With the victory, Barcelona reached its sixth straight Champions League quarterfinal with a 4-2 aggregate win. Barcelona has won the Champions League three times in the last seven seasons.
"Beyond the result and moving on to the next round, we have returned to our origins and that is what we must feel most satisfied about," Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano said Wednesday. "The fact that we strung together some bad games undermined our confidence and our way of playing. On Tuesday, our fans went home knowing that they had seen their team again."
Barcelona had been struggling heading into the match at the Camp Nou. The team twice lost to Real Madrid -- once in the Copa del Rey, once in the Spanish league -- and was also disappointing in a 2-0 loss at Milan in the first leg of the Champions League series three weeks ago.
"What we have done over the past five years is crazy," Mascherano said. "This team is still competitive. That is what we have to take away from this."
Messi, the four-time FIFA Player of the Year, got his 18th multigoal game of the season and increased his season goals total to 53.
Led by the 25-year-old Messi, Barcelona is seeking its fourth Champions League title in eight years and is closing in on its sixth Spanish league championship in nine seasons. Barcelona is 16-0-4 at home in the Champions League since a loss to Ruben Kazan in October 2009.