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08th Feb 2018

Francis Coquelin literally had to take Lionel Messi’s shirt off to stop him

If you can't beat him, strip him

Darragh Murphy

Almost every method imaginable has been used to try to stop Lionel Messi.

Defenders have attempted to get touch-tight on him, only for the Barcelona talisman to nip the ball round his marker and burst into space.

Opponents have tried to sit off, only for Messi to run at them and jink his way into shooting opportunities.

And then you have Francis Coquelin, who broke out a novel technique in the hope of halting Messi’s progress during Valencia’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg clash at home to Barca on Thursday night.

The former Arsenal midfielder was quickly made aware of Messi’s terrifying trickery in the first leg last week, when the Argentine “sent him back to England” with a sumptuous nutmeg.

Coquelin felt better prepared for Messi this week, however, and tried to stop his playmaking by pulling his shirt over his head à la your old school bully.

Surprisingly, not even a free kick was awarded to Barca for the attempted strip of their star player but we’re not sure how frequently this example of skullduggery will work on Messi.