Taking care of your body is crucial when you’re a world famous athlete. But the sport of football is unique when it comes to injuries.
No matter how much you tend to care about your body, injuries simply can’t be predicted. It’s the nature of the game. If you want to give your best every game, you just have to expose yourself to tackles that could lead to serious injuries.
The only way you can reduce the risk of an injury is through experience. You learn how to guide the ball, how to protect yourself, and when to increase or decrease the tempo of the game.
“Once they said they can only stop me with a pistol. Today you need a machine gun to stop Messi.” – Hristo Stoichkov
This is a compliment indeed, but the real meaning is a bit different. The only way to stop Messi is by force and tackles. It would be understandable if Messi was marked by one player only. But teams usually assign two or even three players to mark the best player in the world.
That’s a risky task for both Messi and the defenders marking him. Messi would have to doge three players in order to shoot or create a goal scoring opportunity.
The defenders would have to find a way to stop him. In most cases, defenders don’t hesitate to foul Messi just to stop him from scoring or assisting.
Messi is human after all
We’re not talking about his skills here, but we’re talking about the risk of injuries. Messi has had 17 injuries, counting the latest one against Atletico.
The metatarsal fracture was the worst one. He missed 18 games, and his recovery lasted 87 days. He had 7 injuries in the last two season only, and he suffered from metatarsal fracture in the 06/07 season.
But considering the fact that he likes to play every game, and he’s scored 500+ goals for Barcelona shows that Messi is not a player that is prone to injuries.
But he’s 29 years old now, and his body is no longer improving physically. He’s not capable of handling tackles like he used to, and maybe playing 50+ games per season is becoming too much for him?
He’s adopted a new role at Barcelona, a less aggressive one. He’s not willing to take on 3-4 defenders as often as he used to.
He’s more into the playmaker role now. He lets Neymar take over the dirty work and handle the tackles.
We should even see him on the bench against easier opponents. We’re not talking about right now, it’s still the beginning of the season.
But when things get intense, and Barcelona needs a player to lead the team to a Champions League final, Messi should be rested and ready.
It’s better to put him on the bench against an easier opponent in the Spanish Cup competition. He’s going to feel rested, and the risk of an injury will be reduced.
“To lose Messi means that football loses. With Messi we are stronger, but we will continue being strong,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique told reporters after the match.