2nd October, 2018
This is exactly one of the reasons why Lionel Messi is considered the very best player in the world today. He attracts attention from all and sundry, be they players, managers and fans alike. It does not matter if they are opponents or not. Even the so-called haters just “love to hate him” because of his football prowess.
This is the reason why as Tottenham play against Barcelona today at the Wembley Stadium in London, the Spurs Manager, Mauricio Pochettino has chosen to talk about him rather than the match itself.
He was quoted as saying that he wants his players to enjoy facing Barcelona star Lionel Messi, saying it was something they would tell their kids about. Who would not do the same in his shoes?
Tottenham will be facing the Spanish giants today Wednesday, needing a win after opening their Group B campaign with a defeat away to Inter Milan.
Of course, if they are to have any chances of winning this match, the home team must find a way of at least reducing the impact of Messi who has already netted eight goals in just nine matches this season.
Pochettino however seem to be looking at the game from a different perspective as he said his players needed to make the most of their opportunity to face one of the all-time greats. He had the following to say in this regard:
“I am not going to try to find a solution. I am going to say to the players, ‘Enjoy playing against Messi, because you are going to have the opportunity to play against one of the best players in the history of football’,”
“More than it worrying you, it needs to excite you to play and so you can say, ‘Oh, I played against Messi’, or ‘I played against [Diego] Maradona’, or ‘I played against Ronaldo’.
“This is the type of player that you are going to remember. For your ego, it’s a thing that you are going to tell your kids and grandkids.
“Sometimes, my kids say to me, ‘Ah, you played with Maradona, you played with this or you played with that’. And they are so proud.”
Many people believe that Tottenham are in with a chance as Barcelona go into this game on a three-match winless run, having played draws with Girona and Athletic Bilbao on either side of a shock loss to Leganes.
Even in such a situation, Lionel Messi has managed eight goals and five assists in nine games in all competitions this season. This is the reason why the Spurs manager has decided to talk about him and his influence on this match.
“It’s difficult to find solutions to try to stop him [Messi], I promise you. I think it’s impossible,”
“It’s only to enjoy it, to be close, to help the players who are going to face him and, in the end, when you have the ball, to try to have possession, to play in the opposite half, to try to push Leo to play far from your goal. Because if not, it’s terrible.”