Carlo Ancelotti says that the only way for a coach to prepare for a game against Lionel Messi is by refusing to talk up the Barcelona attacker, so as to avoid striking fear into the hearts of one’s own players.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is universally regarded as one of the finest footballers of all time and Ancelotti has nothing but the utmost respect for the Argentine’s ability.
However, the Italian coach, who led Real Madrid to a 2-1 victory over Messi’s Barca in the final of the 2013-14 Copa del Rey, insists that it is important not to focus too much on the No.10’s brilliance when giving a pre-game team talk.
“To prepare a game for Messi is impossible,” Ancelotti told Goal. “Messi is a fantastic talent and if you are to prepare for a game against Messi, well, you have to avoid speaking about Messi, about the skill and the ability of Messi.
“Messi is a fantastic talent and if you speak to your players about the skills of Messi, then the players will be afraid because I think he is a top talent.
“So, the most important thing is to avoid speaking about Messi and, as I said before, to be focused on your game.”