When I was in the middle of the controversy, When he was compared to Maradona and criticized for not singing the anthem, or for not putting the team on his shoulder, in those moments when criticism was harsh, the Uruguay coach, Oscar Tabárez, did not hide his admiration for Lionel Messi.
For the teacher, there are not two opinions: “For me he is still one of the best in terms of individuality in world football today.”, He expressed prior to one of the many games in which he was a rival.
Today, facing a new duel of Uruguay against Messi’s Argentina, ESPN remember the words of the celestial technician who never hesitated to put 10 among his chosen ones.
The admiration of the Uruguay coach for the Argentine 10 comes from a long time. Prior to the 2011 Copa América, when Messi dazzled in Barcelona and was discussed in his country, the Uruguayan coach expressed: “Messi plays everywhere and resists any comparison. Messí does not have to prove anything, although for the attraction of the America’s Cup it would be important that he is at a good level. For me he is still one of the best there is in terms of individuality in world football today.
When asked how to mark a player of his quality, he replied: “I never set a personal best and it doesn’t seem to me to be the best solution because Messi is a player who lets himself be easily scored many times. The big problem is that he has innate conditions that he maintains at all times, even when it seems that he is not in the game and that makes him dangerous. He is an impressive player, the most destabilizing there is at the moment, above any tactically enlightened coach of the opposing team could be ”.
And look at what fate is, Uruguay ended up precisely eliminating Messi’s Argentina in the semifinals of that 2011 Copa América in which it ended up becoming champion.
In June 2015, Tabárez spoke again about the Albiceleste captain.
“Messi is unpredictable because you can’t say what he’s going to do; He always surprises, he has a great mastery of the ball, speed, he is a second ahead, but in this scheme of Argentina he is almost never on the left, he starts diagonally from right to left and the most dangerous thing is when he brings the ball with his left. Or when he puts balls on the opposite side as he does in Barcelona. We had to stagger it and the last line to be attentive to the possible destinations of the ball. It’s very difficult to plan a match trying to limit just one player ”.
It was lightning
On an exclusive note with ESPN In September 2020, Tabárez was consulted about Messi’s characteristics and once again demonstrated his admiration.
“Messi is influential when he grabs the ball in attack, wherever it may be. I think he almost has a habit of starting on the right, like in the 2011 Copa América with Sergio Batista. It has a speed of movement, in the gesture and a mental speed that makes it go where all the legs are and it passes; Riquelme talks about what the players in the middle do: ‘Those of us who play in the middle look for space, everyone except Messi, who sees where everyone is and faces them and then finds out how the goal was when he gets home and what He watches on television, it is exaggerated but in a sense he talks about it, it is exceptional, I have never seen anything like it. Beyond the discussion of who was better, Messi’s characteristics are totally exceptional ”.
The Maestro recalled that working at FIFA he saw Messi in a U-20 World Cup.
“Messi scored both goals in the final, at that time it was rare but in one way … it was a flash of lightning. Of course, like every footballer within a team, he is part of the team, he depends on the team and contributes to the team. There are many things that are asked of him, such as for example to lead, and each one is as he is. With Messi, Argentina has not emerged as world champion, but if that is the parameter used to judge everything… He has played finals and it cannot be said that Messi’s cycles in Argentina have not been good ”.
And concluded: “I think that as everything is going to be valued much more after it ends, because sometimes we are watching a game and we marvel at the things he does.”
Uruguay faced Argentina in the 2021 Copa América in Brazil and the Maestro was asked if he planned to assign an individual mark to 10, which he never did.
The DT replied: “We are going to take into account what Messi is like in all previous games; his performances, beyond the fact that he always surprises with his talent, have many points in common so that a profile of his movements can be made on the court ”.