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Many world-class defenders have tried and failed to stop Lionel Messi.
Over the past 15 years or so, the little magician has regularly left the best pragmatic operators in the business chasing shadows.
Former Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng is perhaps the most famous case. The German was left in a crumpled heap on the Camp Nou turf in 2015 after a body feint by Messi shortly before he scored a crucial Champions League semi-final goal.
Stopping Messi is pretty much an impossible task, as his footballing intelligence is far superior to that of most others. He also possesses the dribbling skills needed to beat any other player on the planet with ease.
One way of trying to limit his influence on a game is by man-marking him and that’s exactly what Girona attempted during a La Liga match back in 2017.
Former Manchester City man Pablo Maffeo was tasked with following Messi wherever he went on the pitch and the right-back was actually able to prevent his opponent from scoring in the match.

Como marcar (tentar) Messi. Maffeo não tirava os olhos. pic.twitter.com/SLtqHaDosm
However, Barcelona still won 3-0 thanks to two own goals and a strike from Luis Suarez.
But Messi certainly had one of his quieter games in a Barcelona shirt and that was down to the fact that Maffeo was stood next to him during the entirety of his 78 minutes on the pitch.
Now, surely that’d be a hugely frustrating tactic to be the target of, right? Well, according to Maffeo himself, Messi wasn’t overly bothered by it all…
“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 after the match
“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.”
Well that’s quite nice, isn’t it?
Man-marking Messi is undoubtedly an incredibly hard task from a physical perspective, but at least you get to share some niceties with arguably the greatest footballer that’s ever lived.
Maybe some Ligue 1 defenders should follow in Maffeo’s footsteps when they come up against the Paris Saint-Germain superstar…
Danny Ryan is a Senior Writer and Boxing Lead at GiveMeSport. He’s had the pleasure of interviewing the likes of Tyson Fury, Gary Lineker, Amir Khan, Lennox Lewis, Joe Root, David Haye, Frank Warren, Kell Brook & Joseph Parker. He once got Eoin Morgan to commentate on THAT Super Over and is an above average FIFA player.
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