Did Barcelona ace Lionel Messi aim a punch at Liverpool’s Fabinho in the Champions League semifinal first leg on Wednesday night? Well, at least 5,000 football fans believe he did according to a petition on Change.org.
Football fans, many of whom are Liverpool supporters, want UEFA to retrospectively ban Messi from the second leg due to what may have been a punch on the Liverpool midfielder.
It is surely a cry that will fall on deaf ears.
What was the incident involving Lionel Messi and Fabinho?
The incident occurred in the second half with Barcelona leading 2-0 and Liverpool dangerous in attack. Messi dribbled into the Liverpool final third on a counter attack. When blocked off by Fabinho, Messi leapt into the midfielder and throw what some say was a punch at his head.
Messi scored the subsequent free-kick as Barcelona went on to win 3-0.
While Messi’s “punch” on Fabinho has been outlined by football fans as a disgusting incident, few have mentioned the Argentine’s questionable behaviour during the game.
For large parts of the first half, Messi was corralled by Liverpool with Fabinho being tasked to mark him.
According to WhoScored.com, Messi completed just 73 percent of his passes while being disposed twice during the game. There were times in which he showed his frustrations to match referee Bjorn Kuipers.
An aggressive Lionel Messi
At one point, Messi took a Neymar-esque roll around on the Camp Nou turf after being fouled by James Milner. He subsequently pleaded with Kuipers to give Milner a yellow card for simply running into him off the pitch.
Conspiracy theorists claim Messi is being protected by UEFA despite his antics on the pitch as cameras cut away from the Argentine when he showed frustration.
One thing was for sure during Liverpool’s 3-0 loss and that was Messi and Barcelona’s players showed aggression not seen at Camp Nou this season. At one point, Messi made an uncharacteristic sliding challenge on Joe Gomez which received furious applause from Barcelona faithful.
Liverpool will host Lionel Messi Barcelona on Tuesday night in the second leg of the semifinal. The Reds will face off with Newcastle three days prior needing a win to keep their Premier League title hopes alive.