‘You need more than one person to stop him’: Poland manager admits he’ll double up on Lionel Messi in crucial World Cup clash against Argentina… as Lionel Scaloni says it is a ‘pleasure’ to face Robert Lewandowski
Poland’s manager has told his team that halting Lionel Messi on Wednesday is similar to trying to stop Italian Olympic skier Alberto Tomba on the slopes, because ‘he is able to avoid everyone’.
Argentina could be eliminated if they fail to beat Poland, who need only a draw, and manager Czeslaw Michniewicz said he would put multiple players on Messi to prevent him single-handedly winning the match, repeating his achievement of the 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday.
‘At the briefing we talked about Alberto Tomba,’ Michniewicz said. ‘He is able to avoid everyone. So I need to put players on him to make it difficult because if it is easy he will score. You need more than one person to stop him.’
Poland manager Czeslaw Michniewicz says he will put more than one defender on Lionel Messi
The manager, whose side beat Saudi Arabia after a 0-0 draw with Mexico, said the game was not purely about the superstar player each side has – Messi and Robert Lewandowski.
‘It is not tennis,’ he said. ‘It is not one-on-one. Those players are not serving.
‘Robert needs his team members the same as Leo. We rely on these great strikers, but the individual cannot win.’
Michniewicz admitted he is captivated by the challenge of finding a strategy to stop Messi, who goes into Wednesday’s game knowing it could be his last on football’s ultimate stage.
‘The world has been thinking about it for years and I don’t think we will find an answer to this,’ he said.
‘There were matches where he scored several goals. But he says this is his last World Cup and he will be very ambitious in his last tournament.
Michniewicz compared Messi to Italian Olympic skier Alberto Tomba who can ‘avoid everyone’
‘Many people in football say they are still one of the favourites and while they had problems in their first match, people still think they can succeed.
‘Playing against Argentina you have to prepare for when you concede and to avoid panic when that happens.’
The Poles are expected to stick with the line-up which has taken them to the brink of the last-16 and Argentina face a test of their own creative powers.
Poland, Brazil and Morocco are the only three sides yet to concede here.
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni, who has Lisandro Martinez fit despite the Manchester United player complaining of illness after the Mexico game, avoided comparing Messi and Lewandowski when he spoke about the game.
Lewandowski is Poland’s star but Michniewicz says it won’t be all about his captain and Messi
‘It is a privilege and pleasure to be up against Lewandowski,’ the former West Ham player said.
‘The question is a bit tricky. Is he at the same level? Why compare one player with another? It’s not helpful.’
Scaloni said he expected few changes to the way the Poles organise themselves.
‘Most of the teams adapt their playing style but Poland are faithful to theirs,’ he said. ‘In the last few games they’ve only made a few changes.’
He insisted arch-rivals Brazil already qualifying did not put him under extra pressure.
‘I’m a South American so I’m happy for them to go through. If you think otherwise you’re wrong,’ he added.
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni says it will be a ‘pleasure’ to face Robert Lewandowski