Monday, April 15, 2024
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Stopping Lionel Messi’s free kicks may have a blueprint after curious, funny tactic from MLS season opener

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When free kicks are defended, there is a lot of pressure on goalkeepers to set their walls and even more so when the person taking that free kick is none other than Lionel Messi. Against Real Salt Lake to open the MLS season, Zack MacMath did something that hasn’t been used to defend Messi yet in Major League Soccer. The goalkeeper placed defenders on both posts when setting his defense with his defenders packing into the box. 

Sacrificing a traditional wall in front of Messi taking the kick, MacMath positioned Justen Glad and Cristian Arango on each post in order to have extra help and it came in handy. When Messi’s kick came in, it was destined for the back of the net until Glad headed it to safety stopping the dangerous chance.

Take a look:

Messi has made his reputation well known for years, and his first Inter Miami goal came from a free kick against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup last season. Now teams are beginning to catch on. With a full offseason to prepare for facing Messi, teams will likely begin to implement new things just like this set play defense to slow down Inter Miami. But Messi will always reinvent his own game setting up an epic chess match.

Even Messi’s corners are taking on a new flair with him attempting olympico’s among varied deliveries to keep the defense on edge. How defenses keep up with the Argentine wizard will be fascinating to watch. 

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