Teams all over the world prepare to face Lionel Messi a couple of weeks ahead of their clash, as they know they must be perfectly synchronized if they want to have a slight chance to slow down one of the best players in the history of the game.
However, not even being prepared is a guarantee of neutralizing the Argentinean superstar, and former Tottenham player Kieran Trippier is well aware of how dangerous he can be when he’s in the zone.
That’ why, ahead of Atletico de Madrid’s clash vs. FC Barcelona, the English full-back talked to The Athletic to give a few of his insights on what it’s like to face Lionel Messi, reminiscing their last encounter for the UEFA Champions League:
“Everyone knows how good he is, but I think he turned up a few extra notches that night. He scored two and he must have hit the woodwork about four times. He was unbelievable.” It’s weird in a way. He spends a lot of the game just walking and walking. You play against (Liverpool’s) Sadio Mane, for instance, and if you take your eye off him for a second, he’ll just dart in behind you. But with Messi, you look four times and he’s still there. It’s weird. A lot of the time he just walks and walks — and then, before you know it, it’s a goal”, Trippier claimed.
Moreover, the English defender stated Messi is not just incredibly skilled, but also quite clever, and that the Blaugrana have surrounded him with top-notch talents that make him even harder to contain:
“I’ve played against him a few times now and he’s so good at just picking up those little pockets of space. Before Barcelona have made three passes, he already knows where the ball’s going. It’s amazing how clever he is. Even when he’s walking like that, you’ve always got to be aware. He’s unbelievable, the best ever. But it’s not just Messi. There are the players around him. You can go through the whole Barcelona team… Arthur is an unbelievable player,” Trippier concluded.
Barcelona are currently sitting at the top of the La Liga table, but with Real Madrid’s recent surge, this clash vs. Atletico de Madrid will be huge for the Catalans. Thus, Trippier and the Colchoneros are likely to have a handful of an inspired Lionel Messi.