Felipe Melo has revealed the Brazil national team used to take turns kicking Lionel Messi in order to keep a lid on the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Melo, 36, picked up 22 caps for Brazil between 2009 and 2010, featuring in the nation’s Confederations Cup and World Cup squads during that time.
How did Brazil try to stop Messi? Five things to know…
- Lionel Messi is Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer with 70 goals.
- Five of those goals have come against Brazil — no national team has conceded more to Messi.
- Felipe Melo has revealed how Brazil turned to the dark arts to try and stop the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
- The midfielder says he and his teammates used to take turns kicking Messi in order to disrupt his rhythm.
- Melo believes Messi is a “more complete” player than Ballon d’Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi is Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer with 70 strikes in 138 caps to date and Melo — who now plays for Palmeiras in his homeland — has lifted the lid on his country’s robust tactics when trying to deal with the Barcelona icon.
“He’s a unique player,” the midfielder told Clarin.
“When Brazil played against him we used to say ‘we have to kick him once each, we have to rotate’.
“If we didn’t, it was too difficult to mark him. We didn’t want to break him, just to cut his rhythm and to disturb him – it was tactical.”
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Despite Brazil’s roughhousing, Messi has still managed to net five times against Argentina’s fierce rivals over the course of his international career — no national team has conceded more goals to the 32-year-old.
Lionel Messi “more complete” than Cristiano Ronaldo, says Melo
The Messi vs. Ronaldo debate is one that has raged on in the footballing world through the past decade and more, with the two players responsible for 11 of the last 12 Ballon d’Or wins.
The duo have consistently torn up the rulebook when it comes to goalscoring, trophy-winning and individual influence on their side, but Melo believes it’s Messi that is the “more complete” player, thanks to his ability to provide just as many assists as he scores goals.
“Messi is incredible, more so than Cristiano Ronaldo,” he said.
“Cristiano can score five goals for you, but Messi can score those five and then make his team-mates score as well. He’s more complete.”
Messi has been directly involved in 31 goals in La Liga this season, more than any other player, scoring 19 and recording 12 assists. Across Europe’s top five leagues, only Ciro Immobile has been directly involved in more goals (34) this season.
In comparison to Messi, Ronaldo has scored two more goals (21) but his assists pale in comparison at just three in Serie A.