Former Real Madrid stars, Roberto Carlos and Michel Salgado, have berated Barcelona and their players for not featuring at the Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony last night. Messi, as well as his teammates, decided to skip the event taking place in Zurich, opting to stay in Spain instead.
"I am sad and disappointed that Leo and his teammates have not come. We all wanted to see Messi, the other big players and the coach of Barcelona here. It's a FIFA prize. FIFA is the highest authority in football. So, everyone should be here," said Carlos.
Salgado, meanwhile was a little more emphatic in his distaste, saying, ”Barcelona are wrong for not sending their best players. I know that the club has had issues with FIFA in the past but Barcelona needs to understand that FIFA is changing. This is not how you expect one of the world's biggest clubs to behave."
Lionel Messi was a finalist alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann for FIFA’s Best Player of the Year award. He was initially set to attend the gala event along with the rest of the Barcelona players but just hours before it got underway, club officials announced that the players would not be attending the event as they were training for their Copa del Rey second leg clash against Atheltic Bilbao.
Ronaldo picked up the coveted Best FIFA Men’s Player award as he warded off competition from Griezmann and Messi. Earlier, the Portuguese had already beaten the two to claim his fourth Ballon d’Or as well.
The 31-year-old capped off a great 2016 by winning the Club World Cup with Real Madrid, adding to his Champions League crown as well as the Euros he won with his national side, Portugal. Messi, too, had a fairly decent year but it was ultimately his failure to land a major trophy that was his undoing.
Griezmann, meanwhile, made it to the finals of two competitions – the Euros with France and the Champions League with Atletico Madrid – but fell short on both occasions.
Argentine legend Diego Maradona, too, wasn’t impressed with Messi’s absence as he slammed the forward for not getting his priorities straight. However, the man of the moment, Ronaldo, himself was not critical of Messi stating that the Argentine had an important game to focus on.
Party time is over for Ronaldo and Madrid as they travel to Sevilla on Friday for the second leg of the Copa del Rey. They do, however, carry a three-nil lead going into the game and should be able to see off the Andalusian club.
Zidane's men have the opportunity to extend their unbeaten streak to 40 games and set a new record after they equalled Barcelona’s 39-game unbeaten run when they beat Granada 5-0 in the weekend.
Luis Enrique’s side meanwhile have the task of overcoming a first-leg deficit against a rampant Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona lost their first leg encounter against Bilbao by two goals to one, following that up with a drab 1-1 draw with Villarreal. The side is not in a good place right now and some extra training might be just what they need to try and put things right.
The criticism levelled at them might be a little over the top considering the fact that none of the Barcelona players actually won any awards other than being named in the FIFPro World XI.