Xabi Alonso explains the way he managed to stop Messi

During a tactical masterclass for The Coaches’ Voice, Xabi Alonso explained how he managed to stop Lionel Messi when he played at Real Madrid.

Even though stopping Lionel Messi has become easier as the years have gone by, people like Xabi Alonso deserve credit for being amongst the first to do so.

The Spanish midfielder arrived at Real Madrid during the summer of 2009 with the goal of stopping the Argentine player.

Xabi came in when Pep Guardiola started his very particular revolution in Spanish football, it was the time when Messi started playing that ‘False 9’ position.

The manager was Jose Mourinho and he needed Xabi to be at the top of his game in order to stop the Argentine.

Although it did take them a few tries, Real Madrid eventually could stop the Barcelona star through a method that is still applied today.

The key was to fill the space that Leo usually covers before he even arrives at the scene, this allowed the rivals to predict Messi’s movements a bit better.

As time started to go by and the defenders could study Leo’s movements more, it was only a matter of time before they managed to stop him completely.

What we saw at Anfield Road this season was the latest proof that stopping Messi is not only possible, but it can already be considered as textbook defending.

Xabi Alonso offered an interview to The Coaches’ Voice about his time trying to stop Lionel Messi, it happened at Real Madrid.

“With Messi of course, stopping him was not easy. He used to play as a ‘false 9’, they talked about that position a lot at the time,” explained Alonso.

“Xavi used to come to this area to get the ball and he created the space when I went over to mark him.”

“Messi came back from his position as a number ‘9’, to that position that I left uncovered behind me.”

“This quickly became a two against one scenario. This made Ramos come back to mark Messi and a giant space was created because of this.”

“When Messi received the ball, he combined with Villa or Pedro un front and that’s how they did it.”

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“When we started to control this better, Ramos asked me to follow Messi to his position. I didn’t go after Xavi any more, I stayed with Messi in my own spot.”

“They did have more control of the ball, but they weren’t as dangerous. The moment we managed to control this situation better, was the moment we were closer to compete against them.”

Messi no longer has that quickness.

It became increasingly worrying for all the Barcelona opponents that even if they could mark Messi with five players, he would still slip through their fingers.

However, this whole situation has changed because Leo is not as fast as he used to be.

Even though he still scored a total of 51 goals in 50 matches this season in all competitions, Leo is far from that player who dominated football back in the day.

The most competitive clubs in the world can now have a chance to stop Messi by filling him with opponents around him.

We can talk all day about the ones who did it successfully, but the very first squad to beat Leo and his squad was Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho had a very clear idea of what he wanted, but he wouldn’t have made it possible if it wasn’t for players like Xabi Alonso.

People tend to forget, but the Real Sociedad product was actually one of the most important players of that Spanish squad that won the World Cup and the two European Championships back-to-back.

It appears that Xabi understood all the tactical concepts when he was still a player, he would bring them over to his new methods when he becomes a manager.

What’s your take about this explanation that Xabi Alonso gave us about the best way to stop Lionel Messi? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.


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