Leganés’s manager, Javier Aguirre, has a lot to think about. They’re playing Barcelona next, and Lionel Messi is in red-hot form, especially in deadball situations. The Argentine scored a hat-trick of two free kicks and one penalty in the previous match.
Speaking to Cadena SER, the Mexican coach was asked how to stop Messi.
“Well, I have no idea, because every team that I have faced him with, I could never stop him, that I remember. A small draw here and there, perhaps,” the manager said, noting later that he was amazed that to Messi, a free kick was almost like a penalty shot.
One possibility for stopping Messi, some have suggested, is getting rid of the wall formed to defend a free-kick. They say that that would allow keepers more time to react to the shot, as it would allow them a clear line of sight to the ball.
“One of the coaching staff proposed it today, and I told him, ‘look, if I leave Messi outside the box against Pichu Cuéllar, I give him 10 balls and he’ll score 11 goals,’” Aguirre joked.
“There is no way,” Aguirre said, even if the free kick was from relatively far away.
“In the end, we have discussed it a lot. If we put one guy under the post, another laying on the ground... we try 20,000 ways. The most logical thing to do is to avoid unnecessary fouls. But it’s also not possible, because he escapes from you, the scoundrel!”