MANCHESTER (VG) "What kind of a plan can you have?" Ole Gunnar Solskjær (46) answered questions about how to stop Lionel Messi (31). However, three experts try to give advice to the Norwegian.
One of them is journalist Graham Hunter of Barcelona, the man behind Barça's award-winning book. "The greatest team in the world" and the movie "Take the ball, pass the ball" about the same club.
He suggests an unusual solution: a "seal" in Messi – a private United player who is in charge of accompanying the Argentine throughout the match.
"It's very, very few teams doing that. It may work, but the strategy must mean that you also have a plan for the other brilliant Barcelona players. If you put a man in Messi, but they have a Dembélé Ousmane in brilliant shape, then you are punished and lost, says Hunter, who has interviewed Messi several times.
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The "hidden" numbers of Messi that give hope to Solskjær
On Wednesday night, Frenchman Dembélé, Barcelona's second dribble, is likely to start on the bench. He was injured and can hardly last more than a few minutes. This opens opportunities for the Solskjær.
– This is perhaps a day when you can actually ask a player to stay in Messi during the game. Few teams try, and most do not have the discipline to do it right, but my opinion is that this can work, says Hunter, noting that Messi has a special trick to evade such marking:
"He walks around the fight a lot, walking slowly. And even if players know he's brilliant, and it's just a trick because he's hoping to sting, 99 out of 100 tend to stay away from him because the game happens somewhere else on the track. This is a mistake. A big mistake. When Messi is in his room, even if the ball is a completely different place, you should not leave it at all.
Suggest that you move Pogba
Spanish journalist Pol Ballus lives in Manchester and works for the newspaper Sport in Barcelona. He warns Solskjaer against this season's edition of Messi:
It is largely motivated by motivation and emotions. It was clear from the beginning of the season that he, to a greater extent than previous seasons, wants to win Champions League now. He seems very motivated. This makes it even harder to stop it. And if he's in a good mood, there's very little you can do.
Solskjær disagrees with Guardiola over Messi: – Never impossible
Messi has eight goals in six games in the Champions League this season – one goal every hour on average. In addition, he has three intentional passes. Is there anything Solskjaer can do anyway?
– The best way to disconnect Messi is to expel him mentally. It does not need to be aggressive, but they should try to insulate it from areas of the lane where it feels most comfortable, such as in space. They should keep you on the edge. Solskjær must ensure Messi plays the ball as little as possible, Ballus says.
He suggests that Solskjaer pass hard and physically robust Scott McTominay to Paul Pogba's usual position on the left side of midfield so he has the special responsibility of following the most dangerous weapons of Barca.
– Otherwise, the area behind Pogba can be very dangerous. He is not known for his discipline, adds Spanish.
Barcelona star praises Solskjær: – He really helped me a lot
He asks Solskjær to follow the words of Mourinho
Miguel Delaney, half Spanish and half Irish, is a well-known football commentator for the British newspaper The Independent. He works less closely on his "anti-Messi plan" simply because he thinks it is not useful to have such an approach.
Real Betis suffered painfully when Messi made an excellent hat trick against them recently:
– It is not as popular to follow José Mourinho at the moment, but Solskjær should really follow his words when it comes to Messi. He said something really fascinating when I saw him at a press conference in the 2014/15 season. Mourinho believed that you could literally stop Messi and that all you can do is try to limit him, says Delaney, referring to these quotes from Mourinho:
"Every time I played against Messi, I spent hours studying him and trying to stop him.
"But it's not about stopping him, but giving him a difficult fight." This is the best thing you can do.
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