Football

Messi and Arbeloa.

When Alvaro Arbeloa man-marked Lionel Messi in 2007 during Liverpool vs Barcelona

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Lionel Messi probably didn’t enjoy Barcelona’s 3-0 victory over Girona too much from a personal point of view.

Why?

Pablo Maffeo.

The 20-year-old, who is on loan from Manchester City, followed the superstar around the pitch during the 78 minutes he was playing and prevented him from scoring.

Of course, man-marking can only be considered successful if your side get a positive result.

Messi often dragged Maffeo out of position by dropping deep or standing out on the wing, creating space for his teammates. While Maffeo may have stopped him from scoring, it didn’t really save his side from being soundly beaten.

And Maffeo is far from the first player to have attempted to man-mark Messi.

In fact, according to Marca, it was Alvaro Arbeloa that was the first defender to perform that sort of tactic on Messi.

Barcelona's Argentinian Lionel Messi (L)...

Ahead of Liverpool’s two-legged Champions Legue tie during the 2006/07 season, Rafa Benitez asked Arbeloa to mark a 19-year-old Messi out of the game.

Arbeloa on marking Messi

And Arbeloa has explained his reaction to Benitez’s request.

"I remember it like it was yesterday,” he said

“I was training at Melwood and Rafa [Benitez] came over. ‘Left back’. Left? Marking Messi. I stood looking at him, waiting for him to start laughing. This has to be a joke but I saw he was deadly serious.

Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez (R) and

”I thought: ‘madre mía.’ The idea was that I’d be strong on my right when Messi came inside, so we went to Portugal [for a training camp] and I was left-back every day, preparing.”

But Arbeloa did his job to perfection as Liverpool won 2-1 at the Camp Nou in their in the first-leg of their last-16 tie.

Messi barely got a touch as goals from Craig Bellamy and John Arne-Riise secured a famous win.

And the Spanish defender was asked to do exactly the same in the second-leg at Anfield and, once again, he marked Messi out of the game.

Barca may have won 1-0 thanks to Eidur Gudjohnsen’s late goal but Arbeloa’s Liverpool held on to progress to the quarter-finals on away goals.

While Arbeloa prevented Messi from making an impact during those two matches, it must be remembered that he was only 19-years-old at the time.

These days, Messi is far too experienced and is far too clever to let it affect him or Barcelona.

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Topics:
Jamie Carragher
Neymar
Football
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool
Alvaro Arbeloa
Lionel Messi
Barcelona
Luis Suarez
La Liga

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