How do you solve a problem like soccer magician Lionel Messi? Keep him in chains, said Colombia’s Luis Amaranto Perea Thusday ahead of the Copa America game against Argentina.
“We need to have a chain marking system, ensure he is a long way from goal when he gets the ball and be intelligent,” said the Colombian defender, who knows Messi well as he has spent the past seven seasons at Atletico Madrid.
The so-called chain marking system — lining players up to engage with the world player of the year one at a time — was a tactic deployed to useful effect in Friday’s Copa America opener by Bolivia, who frustrated the Barcelona man to escape with a creditable 1-1 draw in La Plata.
Colombia coach Hernan Dario ‘Bolillo’ Gomez insists he will not try to get his men to man-mark Messi, or any of the hosts’ other raft of dangermen.
“If I look at Argentina I’ll go crazy if we start thinking about how to man mark Messi, (Carlos) Tevez, (Sergio) Aguero, (Angel) Di Maria,” Gomez said ahead of Wednesday’s match at Santa Fe, where the sides will meet in Argentina’s first competitive international at the venue.
Perea, formerly of Argentinian outfit Boca Juniors, stressed the need not just to keep tabs on Messi, even if the Barca megastar has never quite reached the heights for his country.
“We have to be intelligent in that we often focus our attention on Messi, yet there are the others too,” said the 32-year-old from Turbo, who has been on the end of several Messi-inspired thrashings at Camp Nou in recent seasons.
“He’s very difficult to stop,” Perea admitted.
“Messi is their focal point,” warned team-mate Pablo Armero. “But there’s also Tevez, Aguero, (Ezequiel) Lavezzi…”