Lionel Messi: Eight times he thought he was a hard man on the football pitch

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Joao Felix may be 12 years Lionel Messi’s junior but the Atletico Madrid starlet had no concerns about squaring up to the Argentinian on Thursday evening.

During the Spanish Super Cup semi-final between Atletico and Barcelona, tempers flared just before half-time when Felix complained about something to Messi.

The two went head-to-head before teammates intervened to separate the pair, although the situation wasn’t completely over.

Luis Suarez had some words for Felix before matters eventually came to cool.

It was a disappointing evening for Messi and Barcelona, who lost 3-2 after throwing away a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining.

They had two goals disallowed and will now sit and watch Atletico and Real Madrid compete for the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday.

And Messi is now having to deal with plenty of jokes about him clashing with 20 year olds.

The skirmish has got us thinking about other times in the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s career that he’s lost his cool with opposing players.

From Felix to James Milner, Messi has never been afraid to put his 5ft 7in frame in front of an opponent.

Sergio Ramos

Messi and Ramos have faced off numerous times and on March 2, 2019, they squared up in the first half of Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Messi reacted badly after Ramos struck him in the mouth with his arm, with the Argentine attempting to show the blood that he felt coming out of a cut.

Ramos denied that it was an intentional elbow, telling Movistar (per Goal): “I didn't mean to catch Messi, but he took it badly.”

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Edinson Cavani

Argentina and Uruguay played out a fiery 2-2 draw in Tel Aviv in November 2019 in which Messi was in the thick of the action.

The two forwards nearly came to blows, with Cavani even offering Messi out for a fight.

Messi reportedly replied, “whenever you want” to the challenge.

You know he’s taller than 6ft, right Leo?

Gary Medel

Messi received the second red card of his career after clashing with Chile’s Gary Medel in the Copa America third-place playoff in July 2019.

Medel was also given his marching orders but in all fairness, the incident wasn’t really worthy of a sending off for either player.

Simply put, neither was willing to back down.

But given Medel’s aggressive style - his nickname is ‘The Pitbull’ - it was pretty brave of Messi to stand his ground.

James Milner

Milner got revenge on Messi for THAT embarrassing nutmeg in 2015 during Liverpool’s Champions League contest against Barcelona at the Camp Nou last year.

Milner clattered Messi on the touchline - rather needlessly considering the ball was going out of play, adding to the thought that Milner just wanted payback - and the Barcelona star wasn’t happy, as Milner revealed in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“He was giving me plenty in Spanish going down the tunnel at half-time as well,” Milner said.

“He was calling me ‘burro’. It translates as donkey but I think it’s also used in Spanish football as a general term for someone who goes around kicking people.

“I asked him if he was all right, but he wasn’t having it. I don’t think he realised I understood his Spanish.

He said: ‘That foul you did, that’s because I nutmegged you’.

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Darijo Srna

Messi was fortunate to escape without a red card when he aimed a headbutt at Shakhtar Donetsk's Darijo Srna in the 2009 UEFA Super Cup.

The Argentine forward was frustrated after missing a chance to score and cheekily shoved Srna in the back.

The Croatian defender took exception to this and squared up to Messi, who reacted by throwing his head towards Srna's and skimming his forehead.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

Barcelona's game against AS Roma in August 2015 was supposed to be a friendly but it was marred by a nasty altercation between Messi and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Yanga-Mbiwa lost his temper with Messi and leaned forward to intimidate his opponent.

The former France international probably wasn't expecting Messi to react by throwing his own head forward and grabbing Yanga-Mbiwa by the throat. 

Weligton

Messi didn't appear to do much wrong to warrant Malaga's Weligton to grab him around the throat in a 0-0 draw in 2014.

But the defender later claimed that he had done so after Messi called him a "son of a b****".

"A minute before, Messi tried to play a one-two, I tried to block him with my arm," Weligton told Cadena SER.

"He thought I caught him in the face, but it was by accident. You can see from the images. He got angry and came at me, calling me a 'son of a bitch.' That was when I caught him by the throat."

Ronald Raldes

Messi was getting involved in heated clashes back in 2011.

In Argentina's Copa America group-stage opener against Uruguay, the world-class forward reacted to being blocked from the ball by giving Raldes a push.

He then went head-to-head with the centre-back and uttered some words, which we can't imagine were too pleasant. 

We often hear about how shy and quiet Messi is but he's a different character on the football pitch.

He's clearly very, very passionate and this sometimes boils over into aggression.

But the very best players have that bit of bite in them and perhaps Messi wouldn't be the player he is without that edge.

It's always fascinating when we see that side to him.

So calm and measured off the pitch, Messi turns into a different person on it.

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