Ernesto Valverde, manager of Athletic Bilbao, spoke to the press before the first leg of the Spanish Supercup between his team and Barcelona on Friday.
One of the big topics was his plan to defend against Blaugrana superstar Lionel Messi. When these teams met last May in the Copa del Rey Final, Valverde tried something bold: an individual marking by defender Balenziaga on the Argentine striker, hoping that the continuous pressure from the Bilbao left-back would bother the best player in the world. Not only it didn't bother Leo, it made him want to demolish the plan, and he did in spectacular fashion, scoring one of the greatest goals of his career.
So coming into the two-legged Supercup between the two teams, one would justifiably assume that Valverde doesn't plan to man-mark Messi again after a disastruous result. Well, he does.
"Of course he [Balenziaga] will do the same thing again, and a few more players will as well. You only have to say it and do it. We did it in the final and we watched as he beat five players and scored a goal. That gave them the upper hand in that game. We'll see in these three games we have against them. It's an option."
Source: Diario AS
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