How to stop Lionel Messi? Bayern's Leon Goretzka opines

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Aug 12, 2020, 02.49 PM(IST)

#7 Lionel Messi Photograph:( Twitter )

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Ahead of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich in Lisbon, midfielder Leon Goretzka said that the Bundesliga winners are chalking out plans to stop the legendary Lionel Messi. 

Ahead of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich in Lisbon, midfielder Leon Goretzka said that the Bundesliga winners are chalking out plans to stop the legendary Lionel Messi. 

Goretzka said thousands of players have tried to answer the question but only few have been able to curb the extraordinary talent of Messi while adding it is only possible if team works on it collectively.

"Thousands of people before me have tried to answer this question," Goretzka replied Tuesday in Lisbon when asked how to stop Messi.

"It is nice - after playing against (Juventus star Cristiano) Ronaldo a few times - to play the other formative player of the last decade.

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"That can only be done collectively," the 25-year-old central midfielder said of Messi, "because he is a gifted footballer".

"I don't know how, but we have to force our game on them."

Messi, who has 31 goals this season, is looking to win his fifth Champions League with Barcelona but have to face a rampant, treble-chasing Bayern Munich, who have won all their 13 matches since the COVID-19 lockdown restart.

Their sensational form was underlined when Robert Lewandowski netted twice in their second-leg round of 15 rout against Chelsea as the won 7-1 on aggregate. Lewandowski has scored more than 50 goals this season in all competitions. 

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Bayern are chasing the treble after winning an eight consecutive Bundesliga title while also lifting the German Cup.

However, Goretzka is of the view that Bayern are the real test. "There is no easy way now. We are here in the sun in Portugal and are preparing for a knockout game in the Champions League," he said.

"We're really up for it. Knockout matches are great."

"At the moment, we're playing as a unit, in addition to the quality of the individual players. We have a clear plan in hand and our intensity without the ball can make the difference." 

But he admitted being wary of Arturo Vidal, Barca's ex-Bayern midfielder.

"I got to know him for a few weeks and played against him many times. He has a first-class mentality with amazing fitness," added Goretzka.

"I noticed that during fitness tests - which I took next to him - he can go beyond the pain threshold."