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Ancelotti explains his theory on how to stop Leo Messi

The Italian described his Messi deterrent plan in his column for Sina Sports but says it's anything but foolproof, especially when the Argentine ia at 100%.
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Ancelotti explains his theory on how to stop Leo Messi
GERARD JULIEN AFP

Carlo Ancelotti got his chalk and blackboard out for his column in Chinese portal Sina Sports . The Italian explained his method of stopping Leo Messi in his tracks - a task which has had many top coaches scratching their heads. Ancelotti has faced the Barça ace a number of times with PSG and Madrid and has ploughed all of his tactical knowledge and experience into his Messi deterrent theory.  "I can give a few guidelines as a coach. Man-marking him shoulder to shoulder is very difficult, whoever marks him must perform to an extremely high level. The best way to limit Messi involves a great effort from the whole team; you need to depress the distance between each line of the team and avoid him getting on the ball", the Italian explained.

To exert that pressure, you also need to hit Barça where it hurts them most, in the centre of the park: "It's important to deploy a high number of players in that zone to destroy Barça's midfield game; you need to stop them from enjoying any kind of freedom to play their own passing game. Doing that also reduces the chances of Messi receiving the ball as well as distancing him from the kind of positions where he does the most damage. The team needs unity, complete concentration and you cannot make even the slightest error", Ancelotti added.

Getafe's defence leave it too late...

"We know that he likes to create space for himself by cutting in from the wings; the midfield players need to press to make it harder for him to find those spaces to run into and try to close him down while he near the wing because once he is central and close to the penalty area, he's comfortable and will be winding up to shoot with his left foot".

Even after his detailled studies, Ancelotti admits that his concept is far from foolproof: "Even if you do all of that, pyou may still come across another problem, Barça have other weapons in their armoury. If you pile all of your attention on Messi, you run the risk of overlooking their other forwards. As I say, it involves a complete team effort whenever you play against Barcelona. My conclusion is that when Messi is running at 100% in physical terms, trying to stop him is futile, it's impossible - regardless of the coach, tactics or defensive strategy. Messi's immense talent stops his opponents from anticipating what he is going to do and when that's the case, there is no way of keeping him under control".