Football News

How to stop Lionel Messi, according to one of the defenders who denied him the World Cup

By William Eldridge

Published: 20:22, 7 May 2019

World Cup winner Per Mertesacker has revealed how his side coped with the threats of football superstar Lionel Messi.

Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil with Mario Gotze’s goal claiming their fourth World Cup trophy.

Lionel Messi incredible yet again: Five things you need to know…

  1. This season, Lionel Messi has scored 48 goals in 46 matches across all competitions.
  2. His 34 league goals are less than half the amount scored by Real Madrid (62) in La Liga this season.
  3. The 31-year-old averages more shots per game (5.1) than any other player in Spain’s top division.
  4. He also has a higher key pass (2.8) average per match than anyone else in La Liga this campaign.
  5. Despite his talents, Messi has never won the World Cup.

The 2014 World Cup final pit Germany against Argentina in a tense affair that saw two tight defences cancel out the opposition. An extra-time strike from Gotze secured the European side another World Cup trophy to add to their collection.

However, former Arsenal centre-back Mertesacker – who only came on as a last minute substitution for fellow Arsenal alumni Mesut Ozil – has revealed how his side managed to cope with the threat that Messi provides.

The 34-year-old stressed how Germany had to “triple up” on him to contain his influence and force him away from goal without committing to a tackle.

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He said: “If Messi has the ball, he is fantastic to watch and difficult to stop. You have to double up on him, triple up on him even, stay with him constantly to block his way to the goal.

“Never tackle, never go down, we’ve heard it over and over again. You have to try to keep Messi away from the goal and block him with multiple players while being as close to him as possible. He is too quick, too fast, too intense with the ball.

“You need good communication between the lines – I’d have to say to the number six ‘Sorry, but now you have two opponents’.

“In Argentina, they have never managed to combine the strengths of their defence and attack. The attack does their thing and the defence does their thing. We’ve [Germany] always managed to do that very well.

“You just get the feeling Messi never had full control. He won the trophy for the best player but not for the best team. [Not winning the World Cup] is maybe the only thing you can hold against him.”