“If you can’t stop him, give him a difficult match!” – Mourinho on Messi

“Something deep in my character allows me to take the hits and get on with trying to win.”

– Lionel Messi

There is no doubt that Lionel Messi is one of the absolute greats to have ever graced a football field. There are very few players in the world that can change the game single-handedly and Lionel Messi is one of the best at this. His game against Bayern Munich against his former coach Pep Guardiola, has got everyone talking, and the Special One has to be one of them.

“I am saying that a team with that boy (Messi) is a different team, is a different story.”

– Jose Mourinho

Having played against Messi when he was managing the Real Madrid side, Mourinho is quite familiar with the playing style and capabilities of Messi. Missing out on Champions League Semi-Final for the first time since 2009, after Chelsea was knocked out at the Round of 16, Mourinho said he does not feel sad for missing out on the game. Here is what he said:

“You enjoy it so much that you don’t think about not being there. You just think about what the guy did.”

It is impossible for any football fan to not respect the talent that Lionel posses. Neuer was absolutely destroyed by the phenomenon that is Lionel Messi; and Mourinho believes it is very difficult to stop him. Whenever Mourinho has faced Messi, he has spent hours trying to study his game and find ways to stop him. When Inter faced Barcelona in 2010, Mourinho managed to prevent Messi from working his magic and he believes that man to man marking was the formula behind it. Here is what Mourinho said on the matter:

“With Inter (in the 2010 Champions League Semi Final), we stopped him in both matches — Inter-Barcelona and Barcelona-Inter. The best way to (usually approach) is man-to-man because that is better than involving everyone. When you go man-to-man you go with similar power, although man-to-man with him is an impossible job. Like I say, sometimes I was successful, sometimes I was not successful.”

Mourinho also believes that the maximum any manager can do against Messi is give him a difficult game,

“Every time I was thinking about how best (to) collectively — I am not saying stop him — give him a difficult match. I think this is the correct word. It is not about stopping him but giving him a difficult match. That is the best you do against him.”

Everyone is in awe of Messi, including Mourinho; and the upcoming second leg of the semifinal would see Messi against Pep Guardiola in Munich and it would be interesting to see if Bayern does go the man-to-man way as Mourinho said.

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Edited By: Harshal Ahire

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