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Sometimes a player is so good, the only way to stop them is to foul them.
Whether it is a tug of a shirt, a clip of the ankles, or a brusque bit of physicality, players often have no choice but to resort to the dark arts to stop a player.
For Lionel Messi this has been the case ever since he was a little boy playing in Argentina.
However, while Messi has grown used to the odd kick or body check, he found himself on the end of what was described by Marca as the worst tackle he has ever faced in his career.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward cut the ball back past Venezuela defender Adrian Martinez who hit the former Barcelona captain with a horrific knee-high studs up challenge.
The impact of the challenge was enough to send the 34-year-old sprawling into the air.
Sensationally, the referee needed VAR to give Martinez a red card, despite the Deportivo La Guaira defender’s reckless challenge.
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The Argentina captain was the fifth most fouled player out of Europe’s top five leagues in 2020.
Many probably would have expected the little magician to have been higher up that table.
The only logical assumption as to how he finished below the likes of Rafinha, Nabil Fekir, Andrea Belotti, and Jack Grealish, is because defenders struggled to even touch him let alone foul him.
Since joining Paris Saint-Germain at the beginning of August on a free transfer, Messi has only played 24 minutes for the French giants.
But after viewing that challenge in Argentina’s 3-1 victory over the Venezuelans, PSG fans can count themselves lucky his debut 24 minutes were not his last.
His debut for Mauricio Pochettino’s side was delayed by his late return from the Copa America, where he led Argentina to their first major title in 28 years.
He scored four goals and contributed five assists for Lionel Scaloni’s side, who beat Brazil 1-0 at the Maracana Stadium courtesy of a goal from Angel Di-Maria.
- Lionel Messi
- World Cup
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