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FC Barcelona’s scintillating performance on Tuesday night in London was the undisputed main event of a UEFA Champions League round of 16 featuring a bevy of marquee matchups.
On the individual side, Barça striker Lionel Messi — who scored both second half goals — outshined the rest of his peers, once again headlining a bona fide, red carpet-worthy list of the world’s most eminent footballers.
So it comes as zero surprise that, after FC Barcelona’s 2–0 victory over Arsenal, the international press was as effusive as ever in its collective recognition of the Catalans’ — and Messi's — exceptional play.
Here are the highlights from the world media:
- The Guardian lauded the man of the match in its main football story on Wednesday morning, entitled: “Barcelona’s miracle worker Lionel Messi leaves Arsenal praying for one,” a brutally honest assessment encapsulating the last-16 tie.
- The Daily Mail, which interviewed FCB President Josep Maria Bartomeu ahead of the match, was unequivocal, splaying its appraisal of Tuesday’s match across their sports page. “That's why he's No 1: Messi double leaves Arsenal on brink of Champions League exit as Barcelona's awesome trio run riot,” read the boldface headline.
- The Independent went with a straightforward, self-explanatory title in its match report, “Magical Messi and Barça outclass Arsenal at the Emirates,” which was front and center. The paper's game analysis, however, borrowed one of London’s more ubiquitous phrases for a fitting play on words — “Gunners simply unable to mind the gap in quality.”
- ESPN FC from the United States titled its main soccer story “Barcelona counter Arsenal,” in reference to a killer transition game that Arsenal tried and failed to master, and which FC Barcelona’s trident executed to textbook perfection for the game’s opening goal in minute 71, a play which had the Gunners looking dead and defeated.
- In “Against Barcelona, Arsenal Gives Up 2 Goals and Possibly All Hope,” Sam Borden of The New York Times struck a more somber tone, at least from Arsenal’s point of view, highlighting how the away goals rule essentially leaves the Gunners dead on arrival for the return leg at Camp Nou.
- Back in Europe, Wednesday’s print version of the French sports daily L’ÉQUIPE dedicated a generous portion of its front page to Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona, along with an imposing single-word, headline: “IRRÉSISTIBLE.” The online story can be read here.
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