Lionel Messi lit up Wembley. There’s no denying that. There’s also no denying Barcelona were greatly superior over the course of the match and recorded a richly deserved victory. Nor can you deny that a spirited effort from Spurs kept the game within reach up until Messi decided enough was enough. But there’s also no denying the brilliance of Messi has been used as a façade to hide Tottenham’s shortcomings. Rather than analyse proceedings accordingly, fans and pundits are emitting the narrative that the opposition were simply too awesome to overcome, and that Messi was the sole difference on the night. As one match report had it: “Barcelona had Messi; Spurs didn’t”. But let’s not see the truth escape from us like the mini magician on one of his majestic solo runs: Spurs didn’t lose because they were against Messi, and neither did Spurs lose because they were facing a team to be in awe of in Barcelona. No, Spurs suffered defeat because they were ill-equipped to face one of football’s greatest institutions boasting one of football’s greatest ever players. Of course, injuries played their part. It’s a task in itself facing the Spanish champions with a squad unblemished, let alone a squad plagued by ailments. But isn’t this something that should have been foreseen? As the transfer window slammed shut on 9 August, the hard, painful truth was this Spurs squad was a handful of injuries away from being threadbare. This proved the case last night when Pochettino had to call on Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama to start in central midfield; two players who have seen as much football as the Old Trafford home crowd over the past year. Maybe that’s overly harsh on Winks and Wanyama, but to further illustrate the point of a Tottenham squad unable to compete with the domestic and international elite one need only look towards the bench. While Valverde was able to call on Vidal, Rafinha and Vermaelen, Pochettino in response had Dier, Sissoko and Llorente. You could say this is what makes Barcelona Barcelona. And only a handful of clubs can boast a squad so rich in talent throughout. However, it’s this lack of “extra quality” that sees Spurs ultimately fall short in the big, decisive games. It’s what happened against Juventus last year and the same could even be said 0f the Chelsea game in the FA Cup the year before that. Rather than be in awe of Barcelona, Spurs need to learn from them: the Catalans have set the standard. And for Spurs not to attempt to bring themselves as close to that standard as possible is to ultimately accept defeat. Naturally, Messi played his part. But to suggest he was the only difference on the night is to miss the point. Rather than Messi and Barcelona having too much for Spurs, it was actually Spurs who didn’t have the firepower to match their counterparts.