Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho revealed a plan to stop Barcelona star Lionel Messi ahead of the semifinal clash against English side Liverpool. Messi scored a brace in the second leg of quarterfinals against Manchester United and the Barcelona magician is a headache for Jurgen Klopp and his Reds in the semifinal battle.
Mourinho has faced Messi several times when during his tenure at Real Madrid and said it is very difficult to stop Messi without creating carnage.
“Messi’s position is easy to understand, but it’s not easy to create a cage to contain him,” Mourinho said on Russia Today as quoted by Marca. “When Messi has the ball one-on-one you are dead. You have to create a cage around Messi.”
Mourino also pointed out where his former club Manchester United lacked in the second tie to stop Messi. While the defense was left hapless, Messi and his attacking unit ran circles around the Red Devils, toying with them at times leaving them frustrated.
“Manchester United in the first match zonally occupied that central area very well, but in this match, I think they tried to start the game with a different perspective. In front of the defensive line there was only Fred and that’s the area where Messi comes,” he added.
Right now, Messi is leading the UEFA Champions League charts with 10 goals and may bang in a few more with most of the competition out.
The Argentine will not be the only problem for The Reds as they will also face a couple of familiar faces against Barcelona with Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez, who were part of The Reds in the past but now they will don the Barca jersey at The Anfield.
Earlier, Virgil Van Dijk also felt that it will be hard to stop the world’s best player.
“It’s about doing it all together, it’s never 1vs1, it’s never just me against a particular striker. It’s always us against everyone and I think that’s the only way we can defend well. And it’s going to be very hard and I think he [Messi] is the best player in the world but we’ll see,” the 27-year-old told Viasport Football.
While Liverpool prepares for Barcelona, they also have their eyes set on the Premier League title as they place Cardiff City this Saturday. For Barcelona, Valverde can afford to drop points and rest his key players as they are already nine points clear ahead of Atletico Madrid.