Managing Messi threat is not straightforward, insists Valencia boss Marcelino
Valencia boss Marcelino has no special plan to try and stop Lionel Messi in Sunday's LaLiga clash between the top two.
Marcelino has rejuvenated Los Che this year and they go into the contest at the Mestalla just four points behind table-toppers Barca after eight successive victories.
Predictably, the prospect of keeping Messi in check a concern is a concern for the 52-year-old former Villarreal boss.
Asked if he has the key to stopping the Argentinian playmaker, Marcelino told the pre-match press conference: " No, I don't think I have it because I'm not smarter than anyone and I do not play.
"It is easy to give opinions on how to counteract him, we will try to make his participation as limited as possible and in limited space situations.
"But to annul him? No one has done it definitively and usually he gives his maximum performance in matches of this level."
On Saturday, Messi signed a new deal committing him to the Catalan giants through to the summer of 2021.
Announcing the deal, the LaLiga club added that the Argentina forward has had a £626million buy-out clause inserted into his contract.
That means, in all likelihood, the 30-year-old will finish his career at the Nou Camp and not, as has been reported for some time, move to Manchester City.
Messi was on the bench for the Champions League draw against Juventus on Wednesday but b oss Ernesto Valverde brought him on in the 56th minute and has allayed any fitness concerns ahead of the LaLiga contest.
However, even though Barca have dropped only two points this season, they could be without several influential players for this contest.
Gerard Pique is suspended after picking up a fifth booking of the season in last weekend's win over Barcelona, while Javier Mascherano misses out with a hamstring injury sustained on international duty with Argentina earlier this month.
Marcelino Garcia (Reuters)Reuters
Midfielders Arda Turan, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomes are still missing and although £96.8m summer signing Ousmane Dembele is making progress from a hamstring injury of his own which has restricted him to just 51 minutes of LaLiga action, the forward is not yet fit to return.
However, Marcelino does not think the absences will make things any easier for his team to maintain their winning run.
He added: "I think that winning this game is very difficult. We want to be the first team to win against Barca in the league this season.
"For us there are three points at stake, and we want to see ourselves compete against a great rival with the dream of winning. We respect them - but we want to win.
"However, Barca are the best defensive team in the league - they have only conceded four goals. Regardless of whether they defend more or advance less, they are a team that give away few chances and goals."