Lionel Messi.

Pablo Maffeo's individual highlights vs Barcelona show you can stop Lionel Messi

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Barcelona once again cruised to victory against Girona on Saturday to make it six wins out of six and maintain their position at the top of La Liga.

Own goals from Aday Benitez and Gorka Iraizoz, added to by Luis Suarez's 69th-minute strike, handed the Blaugrana all three points to open up a four-point lead.

Barca have made a strong start to the 2017/18 season but on this occasion, they didn't require the goalscoring services of Lionel Messi to win.

Messi, having scored nine league goals heading into the game, was relatively quiet by his usual standards - but there was a very good reason why.

Twenty-year-old right-back Pablo Maffeo was given one 'simple' instruction by manager Pablo Machin: to mark Messi out of the game.

And he did exactly that. Maffeo didn't give Messi a second throughout his 78-minute stint, constantly shutting down the Barcelona ace whenever he received possession.

Even Messi couldn't help but be impressed by Maffeo, telling the Manchester City loanee after the game that he didn't enjoy being marked so tightly for so long.

"When you mark Messi, you have to think that he is a normal person, he has two legs like all of us, and to be focused," Maffeo said in an interview.

"Messi told me: 'I've got you here for the whole day' and I said: 'You're the best in the world, I'm not going to leave you'.


"He asked me how old I was, if I had been assigned by Manchester City and what it was like there. He said the marking was not pleasant.

"Messi and I were together the whole match. He has asked me a couple of things. He is a good person."

Maffeo will never forget being complemented by arguably football's greatest ever player, much like how football fans won't forget his performance in a hurry.

A highlights reel has emerged from the game and it shows exactly how Maffeo managed to keep Messi so quiet. It's a pretty incredible watch.

Defenders around the world should watch Maffeo's performance against Barcelona, because he genuinely gave a masterclass in how to stop Messi.

Messi isn't the strongest player, so by putting constant pressure on him Maffeo was able to stunt his influence on the game.

It's worth mentioning that Maffeo isn't the first to try and man-mark the Argentina international, so there's an argument to be made that Messi simply had an off day.

But take nothing away from Maffeo - he was given a job and did it to perfection.

Gerard Pique
La Liga
Andres Iniesta

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