As many sides have tried before, with varying degrees of success, Sevilla will be tasked with trying to stop Leo Messi from playing his game against them in Saturday’s Copa del Rey final.
The player charged with keeping tabs on the Barcelona star will be a familiar face: Sevilla’s Argentina international defender Gabriel Mercado, who had a chat with AS before the game at the Metropolitano and analysed his compatriot.
Mercado on Messi: "He is the best in the world, beyond doubt"
“If I smack him obviously I can’t go back to Argentina,” Mercado joked, but also noted that even the rough treatment is no guarantee of knocking Messi out of his stride. “You can’t stop Messi by fouling him; you put one in on him and he just gets up and carries on, wanting to play football. His only thought on the pitch is how to hurt the opposition and score.”
In Mercado’s view, Sevilla will have to play a perfect game at the back and hope that Messi has an off day to have a decent chance of lifting the cup, which Barcelona are seeking to claim for a fourth successive season. “He is the best in the world, beyond doubt. He pops up all over the pitch, scores goals, lays them on for his teammates… we’re going to have a lot of work to do in defence and we’ll have to play to perfection. But we are dreaming of winning the cup and nobody’s going to take it from us easily.”