Messi marches on, Ronaldo bows out: Reaction to UCL drama as Barca through, Juve out
There were contrasting fortunes for generational greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the UEFA Champions League as the Argentine guided his Barcelona team into the semi-finals while Ronaldo’s Juventus crashed out.
Football is, of course, very much a team game, but Messi and Ronaldo have bestrode the sport to such an extent in the past decade that much of the Champions League focus had been on the pair setting up a potential final showdown in Madrid on June 1.
That seemed a distinct possibility when Barca and Juve were kept apart during the quarter-final and semi-final draws, although any hopes fans had of the pair meeting in Madrid have now ended.
Messi kept his end of the bargain, producing a masterclass as he scored a brace before being involved in Philippe Coutinho’s sublime third as Barcelona swept past Manchester United 3-0 at the Nou Camp to win their quarter-final tie 4-0 on aggregate.Also on rt.com Messi masterclass: Lionel Messi fires brace as Barcelona reach Champions League semis
It was smooth passage into the last four, where they will meet either Liverpool or Porto, as Barca seek a first Champions League title since 2015.
Messi is a man on a mission for a fifth Champions League title in total – which would put him level with Ronaldo.
Watching Messi live makes life worth living. 🐐— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 16, 2019
It looked as if Portuguese star Ronaldo had put his Juve team similarly on course for the semi-finals when he powered in a header to open the scoring against Ajax in Turin, which was his 25th goal at this stage of the competition and 126th in total in the Champions League.
Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League quarter-finals—22 games—25 goals pic.twitter.com/mH6BMBxg60— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 16, 2019
But a fearless Ajax side had clearly not ready the script, hitting back with goals through Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt.Also on rt.com Ajax dump Juventus and Ronaldo out of Champions League as Dutch giantkillers do it again
The impressive young Ajax team duly held their nerve to dump Juve out 3-2 on aggregate, meaning Ronaldo’s personal grip on the Champions League trophy after winning it for the past three seasons with Real Madrid will also come to an end.
For the first time since 2015, Cristiano Ronaldo will not win the Champions League. pic.twitter.com/8vhyqGcLDX— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 16, 2019
Incredibly, it will also be the first time in nine years that the Champions League last four is played out without Ronaldo present.
Juve's defeat also meant that Ronaldo had lost a first Champions League quarter-final at the 11th time of asking.
Cristiano Ronaldo is knocked out of a Champions League quarter-final for the first time in his career. pic.twitter.com/X6tqKBB58Y— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) April 16, 2019
Cristiano Ronaldo in the UCL quarter-final❌ Juventus 18/19✅ Real Madrid 17/18✅ Real Madrid 16/17✅ Real Madrid 15/16✅ Real Madrid 14/15✅ Real Madrid 13/14✅ Real Madrid 12/13✅ Real Madrid 11/12✅ Real Madrid 10/11✅ Man Utd 08/09✅ Man Utd 07/08✅ Man Utd 06/07 pic.twitter.com/DLb3GrhE7I— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) April 16, 2019
For some, there was a lament to the potential blockbuster showdown between the two all-time greats Messi and Ronaldo in the final.
But others - particularly the Messi fanbase - saw it as evidence that this year was clearly playing out in the Argentine's favor in the seemingly never-ending GOAT debate between the pair.
Ronaldo: "That's why Juve bought me to win the Champions League."😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/tsrUYRu5aT— Messi World (@MessiWorId) April 16, 2019
Messi will win:6th golden boot6th Balon d'or 5 UCL and trebleRonaldo is finished pic.twitter.com/Q2kKVWkwLb— Luis (suspended) (@LR10Elite_) April 16, 2019
Beyond the personal rivalry, however, some paid tribute to what was yet another masterful performance from Dutch giantkillers Ajax, who claimed another big scalp after dumping out Real Madrid in the last round.
This will restore your faith in football 👊Onana and Tadic lead the celebrations after claiming another heavyweight scalp in Turin 🕺🇳🇱Inside the Ajax dressing room 🎥 pic.twitter.com/UHPyXOoZ0i— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 16, 2019
Both Barcelona and Ajax will learn their semi-final opponents when Liverpool and Porto, and Manchester City and Tottenham conclude their quarter-final ties on Wednesday.