Lionel Messi: Sometimes you have to bow down to genius and he is a wizard – Gillespie

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Lionel Messi scored twice in the first leg of the semi-final last week as Barcelona ran out 3-0 winners.

The Argentina forward starts for Barca at Anfield on Tuesday as he looks to secure a spot in the final, and Liverpool hero Gary Gillespie has raved over the 31-year-old prior to the match.

“Sometimes you have to bow down to genius and he is a little wizard, especially in dead ball situations,” Gillespie told Love Sport Radio.

“I thought Liverpool played him pretty well [in the first leg].

“He is one of these players that flits in and out of games but when he’s in, he is influential.

“He’s always doing something. He’s always bringing other players into play with his individual ability and he’s one of the greatest of all time.

“Sometimes you have to accept that these players make the difference in certain games.”

Although stopping Messi might seem impossible, Jose Mourinho’s Inter managed to keep him quiet in 2010, and the Portuguese boss has offered Liverpool an insight as to how.

“The situation for us was very clear, which was [Messi] cannot play alone when he comes in between the lines,” Mourinho told The Coaches’ Voice.

Messi was deployed on the right-wing for the clashes between the two sides, and Mourinho has explained how midfielders Thiago Motta and Esteban Cambiasso helped right-back Javier Zanetti in keeping the forward quiet.

He continued: ”So this player here [Cambiasso] must be a player totally in control of this area, always in communication with the left-back.

“There is a moment where he becomes yours and I stay in the zone but if in a certain moment you are attracted by other positions and Messi goes in these positions in between the lines, you have to decide to go.

“But then if you decide to go, you have to defend [Dani] Alves. So there is a combination of ideas but basically everything was around not letting Messi play.

“I remember after the game, in Italy they were using the word ‘gabbia’, the real translation is like a jail to Messi because in the end we didn’t play man-to-man but Zanetti, Motta, Cambiasso, everybody was responsible for any position that Messi could go.”

Mourinho admitted that he knew Barcelona would have more of the ball than his side, and urged his players to no be disheartened by their possessional dominance.

He revealed that he told his players: “They are going to have the ball more than us, much more than us obviously, because many many times they were moving the ball without hurting [us] and we must be mentally strong to cope with that.”

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