How Uruguay managed to contain Lionel Messi following Marcelo Bielsa’s “play without fear” warning
The strategy Uruguay used to stop Lionel Messi in their World Cup qualifying match against Argentina has been made public by Sebastian Caceres.Consequently, what happened?Along with Manuel Ugarte, the Club America star was tasked with monitoring Messi during Uruguay’s World Cup qualifying match against Argentina. When La Celeste shocked the reigning world champions 2-0 earlier this month, Uruguay’s manager Marcelo Bielsa told the two not to be intimidated by the Inter Miami star.
THOUGH CACERESThe 24-year-old told reporters not to be scared to follow him and that he would feel uncomfortable with whoever was closest. Manu Ugarte did it in the first half, but we switched when he turned yellow, so it was my turn to mark him in the second. It was important to follow him fearlessly, but I let him go if he ventured too far outside of my comfort zone. If Messi moved too far from the area I had to defend, I would leave him, and another teammate would take him, so there would be no free players left.”
Temperaments flared on both ends during the intense altercation between the South American neighbours. During the game, Ugarte made an inappropriate gesture towards Rodrigo De Paul, which led to a controversy by suggesting that the midfielder was Messi’s “bottle feeder.”After losing to Uruguay, Lionel Scaloni’s team bounced back to win 1-0 against their rivals in Brazil, where they played their sixth qualifying match of the year. After six games, Argentina leads the CONMEBOL qualifying standings with 15 points, two more than Uruguay.