Lionel Messi we bow once again! We have lost count of your superlative performances. Following on the heels of his Valencia virtuoso, the Argentinian was at his best as stuttering Stuttgart lost its voice altogether against his onslaught. Stuttgart dared to hope after the first leg. Oh! How appearances deceive.
Christian Gross must be comforted by Karl Heinz Rummenigge to convince the Stuttgart coach that there is life after such utter destruction. Bayern was bludgeoned by Barca in similar fashion last season. Yet here they are wondering with bated breath as with every other club. Who gets Barca in the Friday draw?
But before we conclude that this was the Leo Messi show, lets point to some of Stuttgart's own failings that hastened their doom. Jens Lehmann was just awful. The former Arsenal goalie's decision making was piss poor. He spent most of his time getting caught out of position and making shoddily timed dives.
The first goal saw four defenders collapse around Messi and yet none showed the awareness of a Maicon or a Samuel launching themselves horizontally to actually block shots. Especially with the ball on his shooting foot. Similarly, Lehmann was caught charging Toure after Messi's superb pass isolated the Cote D'Ivoirian and Pedro found an empty goal to finish off. Dani Alves superb flick found Messi and Lehmann once again showed poor timing in his dive. Zlatan Ibrahimovic slipped the ball to a streaking Bojan Krkic and Lehmann's half hearted charge found acres of space to slip the ball into goal.
Barca would have won but lets put it this way, they could not have found a better ally in Lehmann and the Stuttgart defense.