Updated at 15.00
FOR SOME TIME now, Eamon Dunphy has been telling everyone who will listen that Lionel Messi and the current Barcelona team are in decline.
The RTÉ football analyst questioned whether the Argentine superstar had got much “left in the tank” after their Champions League exit at the hands of Juventus last week.
So it wasn’t surprising to see Dunphy called out on his comments after the Messi scored two — including a stunning last-minute winner — in Sunday night’s El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The game was one of the most entertaining meetings ever between Spain’s top two, and Messi’s celebration has already become an iconic moment in the game.
On RTÉ Radio 1′s Morning Ireland yesterday, Darren Frehill ended his news round by poking fun at Eamo, saying: “A certain pundit that we have here on a regular basis thought he was finished.”
Then, on last night’s edition of 2fm’s Game On, football pundit Alan Cawley pulled him up. But Dunphy wasn’t having it.
Here’s how the conversation went:
Cawley: You’ve made a bit of a boo-boo, Eamon.
Dunphy: What did I do?
Cawley: I was sitting at home last week watching the match and I was saying ‘please no, Eamon, please don’t write him off’.
Dunphy: You’ve got it all wrong. The first thing I said was that Barcelona, as a team, were gone and that we won’t see that team again.
The next thing I said, and we all agreed, was that Messi would be still — even if he’s lost 1o or 20% — that he would still be a great player.
I also said that I hoped he’d come to the Premier League, maybe to Manchester City, as it would be a fantastic thing.
The third thing I said was that it wasn’t just Barcelona that were struggling, it was Real Madrid. And they are struggling.
Now, to misrepresent that, as funny enough another RTÉ programme did this morning, this is what stops people talking candidly about football and having really interesting discussions — because some moron will say you said something you never said. But go on, finish your point.
Cawley: Well I never said anything like that in fairness, but…
Dunphy: What were you going to say?
Cawley: Well I watched the show last week…
Dunphy: And what did I say about Messi?
Cawley: You said he was finished.
Dunphy: I didn’t.
Cawley: Well you more or less said, the week before you had a package ready to go saying he was finished.
Dunphy: No, we didn’t say that either. What we said was, the Barcelona team that we’ve all loved for the last seven or eight years is no more. It’s over.
What we said about Messi was that he was diminished from what he had been as a great player and that was clear in both Juventus games.
Now if you watched last night’s game, I don’t know if you did or not…
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Cawley: Of course I watched it.
Dunphy: Or did you just watch the headlines…?