"The only antidote against Messi's faults is not to do them"

Milinko Pantic, Toni Doblas and Manolo Rubio analyze for AS how to face the direct free of Barça's '10', with which he has scored 51 goals, three of them to Atlético.


Messi's idyll with direct free is stable and increasingly intense. Against Dortmund, he caught a ball standing on the side of the area and sent it to the crossbar. His mark continues in 51 foul goals, 45 with Barça and six with Argentina. Of them, three to Atleti: in 08-09, to Coupet; on 11-12, to Courtois; and in 17-18, to Oblak. The first two, while the barrier was placed, and the third, by the squad. In this League he has been four and the psychosis grows when the 10 poses the ball to kick ...

"He is a technically gifted and knows very well what he does, he is very intelligent. Above the regulation favors him, now the barriers are at the distance they should," says Pantic, the great specialist in the Atleti stationary ball in recent 25 years, who remembers with humor: "In my time, with luck, they put it seven meters away. Some yellow I took because I refused to suck like this."

Messi has also expanded his repertoire. Alternate subtle touches with power; to the goalkeeper's stick or the opposite. "I just ask the doorman to protect his side," Milinko claims. The Argentine has even scored below the barrier, although against that many defenses are already placed behind it and throw themselves to the ground to cover. There are also those that run back to get under the crossbar. However, Messi has been able with all these obstacles.

Pantic is well known to Manolo Rubio from many workouts together. Atleti goalkeeper in the 90s, he is goalkeeper coach of Fuenlabrada and professor at the GMF Academy, and explains how the study of these actions is growing: "It is about putting the more difficulties the better, but the problem with Messi is that it has more and more variants. " Part of his job is to help him find solutions to his pupils, who in the end are ultimately responsible.

This is what Doblas assumes, exporter of Betis, Zaragoza and Naples, among others: "Everything is analyzed. Penalties, fouls, one against one ... But with Messi, all of that goes to the background because he knows how to change the decision as he sees it placed goal". From his experience, he specifies how to face a shot: "You trust that the barrier remains firm and that the execution is not unstoppable. You are trying to innovate, but I think that against a good shot there is no solution."

From the laboratory, Rubio analyzes the various options that can be used: "The essential thing is to form a good barrier, both in location and structure. The second player and the third must be the highest. Another trend is to jump, but there is risk of the players turning and then the wall opens or causes the ball to touch and deflect uncontrollably. " And the coach exposes a specific case, that of the defense of Cádiz against his ex, Aketxe, possibly the best Second specialist in this art: "He placed, after the first barrier, several defense zones in the area and, in addition, a man on each stick. If you make the pitcher uncomfortable, you make him doubt and also reduce the goal, something you win. But there is no perfect trick, and less with an unpredictable Messi ".

"The only antidote is to avoid faults if possible, although Suárez knows that and Messi always drives the ball close to his foot," says Pantic, to which Rubio adds: "And you have to be careful with that order, let's see if the forward sneaks into the goal with the ball. " With everything that can be invented, with or without barriers, the truth is that in the absence of Messi preparing to launch tonight at the Wanda Metropolitano, Simeone, Oblak and 68,000 other people, they are going to worry ...

Photos from as.com
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