‘We have to kick him, once each!’ – Melo opens up on Brazil’s plans to stop Messi

The veteran midfielder says his team tactically took turns at taking shots at the Argentine in an effort to get him off of his rhythm

Felipe Melo has revealed that Brazil used to tactically kick out at Lionel Messi to disturb the Argentina star’s rhythm as it was the only way they knew how to stop a player so “incredible”.

Melo’s career has taken him all over the world, with the veteran midfielder having played with the likes of Juventus, Galatasaray and Inter among others.

Internationally, the 36-year-old earned 22 caps for Brazil over a two-year span, starring for the Selecao across 2009-10.

During that time, he featured for Brazil’s 2009 Confederations Cup team before heading to South Africa in 2010 as part of his country’s World Cup squad.

And the midfielder, who now plies his trade for Palmeiras, admitted that his side had a plan to stop Messi when Brazil and Argentina collided, even if it wasn’t necessarily one that would be commended as fair play.

“He’s a unique player,” Felipe Melo said to Clarin.

“When Brazil played against him we used to say ‘we have to kick him once each, we have to rotate’.

“If we didn’t, it was too difficult to mark him. We didn’t want to break him, just to cut his rhythm and to disturb him – it was tactical.”

He added: “Messi is incredible, more so than Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Cristiano can score five goals for you, but Messi can score those five and then make his team-mates score as well. He’s more complete.”

Melo has long been known for his physicality, having been sent off in Brazil’s quarter-final loss to the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup for a violent stamp on Arjen Robben.

The hard-nosed midfielder says that he has found differences in how matches are refereed in Europe and South America, with the game’s physicality varying based on what country you’re playing in.

“Referees break your balls everywhere, but they’re different,” he said. 

“In England, if you kick someone the fans say ‘ooooh’ but the referee doesn’t change his mind. But the same kick in Spain gets you sent off.

“In Brazil, some leave you and some send you off and that’s why I love the Copa Libertadores.

“If you get a Brazilian referee, you can get sent off but with an Argentinian, not necessarily.”