Filipe Luís, the former Atlético Madrid and Chelsea left-back got candid in an interview with Pete Jenson of Daily Mail and shared his tactics for stopping Messi among other things like his short-lived move to Chelsea and the upcoming match between two of his former clubs in the round of 16 tie of UEFA Champions League.
As Filipe Luís sat down for the interview, he knew some topics were going to be inevitable and that he will have to face them head-on just like he faces forwards in a match, and it’s safe to say he did not disappoint.
How I stopped Messi
When asked about his duels on the field with Messi, Filipe replied, “one day I would like to ask Messi what it felt like playing against me.”
He went on to add, “I approached it as the most important game in my life against him because he was the best player I have seen play.”
There was genuine competitive respect that could be felt as Filipe described his tactics when facing Messi. He said, “Messi had a thing – and I studied him a lot – that was very important. He improvises. He doesn’t have the dribble in his mind before the ball gets to him. He watches the defender’s movement and depending on your body position, he goes one way or the other. So first I tried not to let him receive the ball.“
He told the Mail how Messi is never looking to get a foul and always trying to outsmart his opponent, “when he received with his back to me, there would be a hard challenge and because he’s so strong, so resistant because he doesn’t go down looking for fouls, the foul is not given away. If he receives the ball facing you, one on one, it’s impossible because of that improvisation he has. You can’t plan for it, because he is watching you and can change. I would fake to make one challenge, one side, to try to make him go the other way, where I really wanted him.“
When asked if it was impossible to stop Messi when he received the ball facing the defender Luís said, “because he improvised because you couldn’t plan for it because he was watching you and could change.”
He then explained how he tried to stop him in such a situation, saying, “I would fake to make one challenge, one side, to try to make him go the other way, where I really wanted him to. He would go to his left where I would then dive in and get there. Either the ball or him. I always took the decision to force him that way. If I got there, I took the ball. If not, if he got around me, the help would arrive on that side. Two versus one. That’s how I stopped him.“
The year at Chelsea
As the interview continued, Filipe talked about his rather disappointing year at Chelsea. When asked about it, he said, “When I was on the bench for the first game of the season I knocked on Mourinho’s office door and said: “Why did you bring me here? Why didn’t you just leave me at Atletico?”
“He said that he didn’t feel as secure defensively with me in the team as he did with Azpilicueta.“
He talked about how Mourinho told him that he would have to earn his place in the starting lineup. Filipe said he felt betrayed after he didn’t get to play in the League Cup final even though he had been a part of the starting XI in all the previous Cup games.
It was at this moment he decided he had to leave Chelsea. However, he does not regret going there in the first place, he added, “I never regretted the move because I was at one of the biggest clubs in the world but everyone wants to play!”
No Sympathy for Trippier after ban
Filipe Luís is of the opinion that Trippier is one of the best left-backs in the game at the moment but he did not mince his words when asked about the ban imposed on Trippier by FA for charges against betting.
He said, “they talk to us players every year and they tell us you cannot place bets on anything! Nothing at all! You can’t tell anybody anything. You can’t tell your distant cousin three-times removed that you might get booked. You cannot do it“.
Luís also went on to talk about his brother’s addiction to gambling and how it ruins lives and tears families apart.
“My brother had a problem with betting sites. He’s addicted and he lost a lot of money. I see his daily fight to not bet again. I’m against it because there is no limit. No one makes a living betting. The only thing that will happen is that you ruin the life of your family as almost happened to mine“, he shared with the Mail.
Atlético Madrid vs Chelsea
Coming back to the game on Friday, Filipe said he was excited about the game and is looking forward to enjoying it like a fan.
“Yeah, I’m supporting Atletico“, he said when asked about where his support lies in the crucial tie. He went on to add, “It’s still my dream to see them win the Champions League.“