Osasuna vs Barcelona
Barcelona are back in La Liga action on Saturday evening.
La Blaugrana will face off with Osasuna, aiming to continue a fine run of form in the league.
Barcelona have not lost in La Liga since the 5th of December, and have won nine of their last 10 outings in the Spanish top-flight.
Such fine form has seen Barca move up to 2nd in the division, five points behind Atletico Madrid.
However, Atleti do still boast a game in hand on Ronald Koeman’s side, meaning they cannot afford to drop any points as we head towards the business end of the season.
On paper, though, the Catalans should have little trouble seeing off an Osasuna side who have scored just 23 goals in 25 La Liga outings this term.
How opponents try to stop Lionel Messi
Ahead of Saturday evening’s tie, Ronald Koeman’s assistant has been discussing Lionel Messi.
Messi is of course Barca’s biggest threat in every game he plays, with opposing sides no doubt setting out pre-match plans on a weekly basis in an attempt to keep the Argentine quiet.
And now, Alfred Schreuder has provided some insight into what teams actually do to stop Messi.
According to Schreuder, opposition defenders ‘hit’ Messi five or six times per game, whilst encouraging each other to ‘kick him down’:
“Getafe, Atletico Madrid, Bilbao are willing to do everything that is forbidden.
“Messi will be hit five or six times in matches. Without a crowd you literally hear what opponents say to each other. When Leo gets the ball, you hear, ‘Foul! Kick him down!’
“But that does not work and then they beat him down. Just like that, with the palm of their hand.
“That would always be red card in the Netherlands. Here in Spain? Yellow. And then we play on. In a way that is also nice, wanting to do everything to win.”
Quotes via Goal.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.