‘For Messi, you need to create a cage’ – Jose Mourinho on controlling Barcelona ace (VIDEO)
Messi scored twice and helped set up another as Barca beat Manchester United at the Nou Camp this week to seal their Champions League quarter-final 4-0 on aggregate.
The Argentine ace was in sublime form – as he has been for much of this season – as the Catalan giants set up a mouthwatering semi-final showdown with Liverpool.Also on rt.com Messi masterclass: Lionel Messi fires brace as Barcelona reach Champions League semis
Analyzing the week’s Champions League action for RT on his show ‘On the Touchline with Jose Mourinho’, Portuguese managerial great Mourinho spoke about ways of attempting to control Messi, who has struck 45 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions so far this season.
Mourinho said his former United team had adopted a different approach in facing Barca this week, having done a better job of containing the Argentine in the 1-0 first-leg defeat at Old Trafford.
“I think the United approach was different [in the second leg],” said Mourinho of the club now managed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who replaced him in December.
“Man Utd in the first match, zonally, they occupied that central zone very well. So when he [Messi] was coming inside he was finding Fred, McTominay coming to the inside all the time."
Tuesday night was a different story, and the Barcelona number 10 punished United by cutting inside from the left with a sublime dribble and finish, before adding a second goal when David de Gea allowed his shot from the edge of the box to slip under his body.
Mourinho said: “In this match, maybe because Man Utd was losing 1-0 from the first match, they tried to start with a different perspective.
“Then it was Pogba wide on the left, McTominay much more on the right, Jesse Lingard playing as a 10 behind the striker.
“In front of the defensive line was only Fred. That’s the area when Messi comes, where Messi gets the ball.
“And when Messi has the ball one on one, you are dead.
“That’s why I never I like the individual man to man against Messi.
“Messi is a cage, you have to create a cage,” he added.
“You know, Barcelona is Barcelona, it’s better team than Manchester United, they have better players than Manchester United. I think it’s normal that they won.”
Standing in Barcelona's way in the last four is another Premier League team, Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s men eased past Porto 4-1 at the Estadio do Dragao in midweek to win their tie 6-1 on aggregate.
Mourinho praised Liverpool as a better team than the one that lost in the final last year to Real Madrid, and said their attacking trident of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah was particularly sharp.
“Mane, Salah, Firmino – not so direct but the way he links the play – they are so dangerous, they can hurt Barcelona,” the Portuguese said.
“Messi knows that the golden ball is there waiting for him, so I’d say they are a bit more favorites than Liverpool, but it’s 50-50.”
Liverpool and Barcelona play their first leg at the Nou Camp on Wednesday, May 1, before the return leg at Anfield six days later.
Watch the full episode of 'On the Touchline with Jose Mourinho' here: