Barcelona take on Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League on Wednesday in red hot form.
Ernesto Valverde’s side have recovered from their embarrassing 5-1 defeat on aggregate to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup by winning seven straight matches in all competitions, including 5-0 and 6-1 victories over Espanyol and Eibar respectively.
Barcelona have been helped by a string of incredible performances from Lionel Messi, who has scored 12 goals already this campaign.
Yet the Argentinian was held off the scoresheet in Barça’s 3-0 win over Girona at the weekend, which was something of a surprise considering he had netted 11 times in five games heading into Saturday’s encounter.
Messi was unable to free himself from Girona defender Pablo Maffeo, who produced an excellent man-marking job on the four-time Ballon d’Or winner.
It led to Messi revealing his frustration to the Manchester City loanee.
El Dia Despues’ cameras captured Maffeo saying to his teammates about his encounter with Messi: “Do you know what he said to me? ‘Playing like that is a bit cr*p.’”
Watch: Messi v Maffeo
Sporting Lisbon's plan to stop Messi
Seeing how effective Girona were at limiting Messi, Sporting Lisbon are reportedly planning the same tactic.
That is according to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, who claim that Sporting boss Jorge Jesus is considering asking midfielder Rodrigo Battaglia to shadow Messi.
Battaglia, 26, is viewed as a good candidate for the task due to his physical style.
All we can say is good luck, lad.
Several managers have tried to man-mark Messi only to be left completely embarrassed.
But Sir Alex Ferguson probably wishes he had done so when Manchester United faced Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League.
Messi was named man of the match after scoring in Barcelona’s 3-1 win at Wembley Stadium but Ferguson admitted he never even considered having one of his players follow the Argentina international.
“We tried to play the way we normally play,” the legendary manager said, per ESPN. “It's alien to us to man-mark players, It wasn't good enough on the night.”
We’ll find out tomorrow night if it works for Sporting.
Is man-marking Leo Messi a good idea? Let us know in the comments section below!
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