Ahead of the Champions League match against Barcelona, Tottenham‘s coach Mauricio Pochettino has revealed his plans to stop Lionel Messi. When quizzed by reporters if he had any formula to stop the Argentine, he said;
“It’s very clear, very simple, we need to be near him when he’s about to get the ball. If we leave him space in a one-to-one, he will get away from his marker. We will need to have our lines together.
“Ideally we would like to anticipate the pass, because if he gets the ball he will get off his marker. What we need is to have one or two players helping each other. We are going to demand sacrifice and to be focused on him.
“They will expend a lot of energy because they have to be focused for the whole 90 minutes.
Martin Keown writing for Mail, shared the same sentiments as he stated a similar way to stop Messi.
“The key to stopping Messi is to create as much traffic in the middle of the pitch, restrict his space and make life as uncomfortable as possible.” Keown wrote
“When facing him you have to do everything at lightning speed, have quick feet and show great determination to stop him wriggling into space.” He added.
“Injuries to Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele mean this responsibility is likely to fall on Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks. Between them they have seen just 174 minutes of Premier League football this season and will lack sharpness. It is vital that the backline helps them by pushing up to reduce space for Messi.” Keown concluded.
Pochettino also showed faith in his attacker Harry Kane who has given himself the challenge of matching and surpassing Lionel Messi.
“Harry is capable of everything. He is showing that quality and talent in the Premier League of course. Then we are capable every season, Tottenham, to be in the Champions League and match teams like Madrid or Barcelona. We will be close to match these type of players.
“For me Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world. Of course he needs the team to help him receive balls and have good positions to score.
“He is capable of everything in football. He’s so young and so talented. The only thing we cannot change is time. We cannot accelerate that time. He is for sure going to have a lot of chances to score goals in the Champions League.
Pochettino will lock horns with his former coach Ernesto Valverde and will be hoping to get a win over the Barcelona as he is linked with Espanyol as a former player
For Lionel Messi, his last game at Wembley ended in a victory over Manchester United and he will like to repeat his heroics as Barcelona needs a victory here after a three-match winless run.