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Brennan's Brief How there is a changing of the guard taking place in world football with Messi and Ron gone


Barcelona's Lionel Messi is out of Europe

Barcelona's Lionel Messi is out of Europe

Barcelona's Lionel Messi is out of Europe

If ever you wanted proof that a changing of the guard is taking place in world football, well Barcelona’s elimination from the Champions League last night confirmed it.

It means neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will be there for the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League.

Time was one or other of them always lit up the Final, or at least the semi-final, of this great competition. Now, because both Barcelona and Juventus were knocked out this week, neither man will be there for even the last eight.

Barcelona’s decline is not Messi’s fault. They have been steadily declining as a European force over the last five years, taking some fearful beatings from the likes of PSG, Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

The club never really replaced those wonderful midfield maestros, Xavi and Iniesta, when their legs gave out a few years ago. And then they spent the Neymar windfall on bad signings who have not done much for Barca.

The Catalan club also sold badly too. They got rid of striker Luis Suarez last summer, much to Messi’s disgust, and the Uruguayan’s goals are steering Atletico Madrid to the La Liga title this season.

Juventus bought Ronaldo from Real Madrid to help them win the Champions League crown. They were winning Serie A every season without him, but the brilliant Portuguese player would add that X Factor needed for success in Europe.

It hasn’t happened. Instead the Turin giants have gone out of the last three Champions Leagues, not to powerhouses such as Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, but to Ajax Amsterdam, FC Lyon and FC Porto.

Rather like Barcelona, they have age issues too. As well as having a 36-year-old Ronaldo on their books, they are slowly trying to buy to rebuild that wonderful veteran defence of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defenders Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Georgio Chiellini that served them so well for so long but is now disintegrating.

With a year gone by for both clubs with no gate receipts, the short-term future looks grim for these two great clubs. They will come back, of course they will. But not in time for our two heroes.

And so we must ask the question, will we ever see Messi or Ronaldo in a Champions League Final again? Unless they change clubs soon, it seems the answer is no!

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