Football-s-In an exclusive interview with Jan Oblak, the
Lionel Messi has broken Peles list for the most goals scored for a single club but what makes him so good? In an exclusive interview with Jan Oblak, the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper offers his unique insight into the challenge of facing the Barcelona legend...
"He watches my legs," Jan Oblak tells Sky Sports. "If I do one step, he consign see it and vegetate to the fresh side. This is why he is the best. This is why he is so difficult. He does not dramaturgy it but he is always looking. He is always watching you. His eyes are on the globe but he sees you.
Oblak, maybe the elite goalkeeper in the world, is in the comfort of his Madrid apartment describing in fact the challenge of facing Lionel Messi, conceivably the best footballer there has ever been. There are times when it is as if he is describing the bogeyman himself.
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The Atletico Madrid goalkeeper is utterance not crave after his teams 1-0 win over Barcelona, their best censure Messi and the rest in La Liga for over a decade. Oblak won that one but there hold too a great deal defeats, too many unpunctual Messi goals, for him to be anything fresh than humble. "He is quiet the blessing entertainer in the world," he insists.
In all competitions, there obtain been three spotless sheets, including a 2-0 win in a Champions League quarter-final. "For sure, that was my first memory rail him." But that was one pastime amongst 17. 10 of them hold observed a Messi shot find its practice beyond Oblak.
"He has scored a great deal goals against me. Too many! But he is a superior player, an amazing player, the finest player. There are much times that he scores a goal and you retain this dogma that you cannot believe how he has scored so easily. You are not even close. Sometimes it feels like he has rightful passed the ring into the goal, it is not even a shot."
Oblak is honouring Messis achievement, completed inveigh Valladolid on Tuesday, of scoring 644 goals for one club, breaking the guide congeal by Pele with Santos. Budweiser are design the historic moment with 644 specially created bottles, individually numbered to represent each goal, and recognising the role that every single one of them has played in pushing Messi towards greatness.
A scarcely reluctantly, Oblak has had to claim weight for 10 of them. "It is always laborious to talk about because goalkeepers perform not like conceding goals." But it is revealing.
So a great deal has been written about Messi over the years but rarely of it from the perspective of the victim. The goalkeeper. The last string of defence. The friend out to destroy him.
Oblaks insight suggests that the competition betwixt the two is skilful and technical, physical and mental. An check of attitude and thing that requires concentration at all times.
Nothing illustrates this as decidedly as Messis index of having scored an 86th-minute goal inveigh Atletico on three different occasions. Just when the vocation is halfway done, it isnt.
"It is strange," says Oblak. "Sometimes you imagine you are governing them, you are commanding him. But in a second, he changes the game, he legion a goal, and Barcelona win.
"Sometimes you do not see him. Maybe you are musing it is not dangerous. And then he scores. This happened to us last season. You privation to be 100 per cent concentrated."
Diego Simeone demands that concentration from his players and indeed from the fellow who he has described as the Messi of goalkeeping. "If your coach says that it can only procedure upright things," says Oblak. But does the Atletico stud keep specific plans for Messi?
Oblak argues that there is only so much that can be done.
"Normally, goalkeepers, we are shouting all the circumstance to offices the defenders but I recognize it is strenuous when Messi is on the other side. The defenders accomplish their first but it is difficult to accomplish anything tactically to eliminate Messi because you never recognize what he is going to do.
"All you can perform is theatre tough and when you see him dont cede him. Try to purloin the globe but dont present a vile intimate to the goal because he is eminent at free-kicks. He is eminent at everything.
"If you are too known he bequeath go elapsed you. If you are too far he entrust shoot. It is not feasible to decide how you will protect castigate him because of his unpredictability. It is impossible."
Oblak returns occasion and again to this stem of unpredictability and with virtuous reason. The stats suggest Messi puts the ball either slant of the goalkeeper with midpoint equivalent regularity.
His trademark finish is to the goalkeepers redress - the one that Oblak refers to as a gulf - but any attempt to anticipate such a strike bequeath be punished with a whipped finish into the opposite corner, as he famously did in the hindmost of the 2015 Copa del Rey censure Athletic.
"That is the issue of Messi for goalkeepers," says Oblak.
"Anticipation depends on the trouper because there are some players who you can feeble predict. There are some players who it is more laborious to predict. Then there is Messi. He is impossible to predict. Not a lot of players retain the possibilities that he has on the ball.
"You can never predict where he is going to shoot and you can never predict when he is going to shoot. When it comes to Messi, you can never predict anything. Ever."
This emerge of when Messi consign burgeon is an added complication. Goalkeepers must be prepared for the early shot that might take them unawares but they ought moreover appreciate that he is capable of delaying the shot or even threading a gully through for someone else.
"Many times, this is a matter rail him. Maybe two or three defenders bequeath go towards him to pilfer the sphere from him but then he leave gorge to another musician and they score.
"You are not proper waiting for the shot, you are waiting for the pass. You are waiting for all kinds of things. Will he shoot? Will he pass? Will he dribble? I repeat, it is impossible."
Sometimes, when the security has been breached and all else has failed, the shot is inevitable. One-on-one rail Messi is the worst position scheme for the goalkeeper.
Oblak found himself in that circumstances during the blessing half of Atleticos bygone win over Barcelona, albeit from a narrow angle, and managed to keep out the shot. He has a strategy.
"If you go down, he leave chip you," he explains. "If you shelf up, he leave go through your legs. If you go right, he cede shoot left. If you go left, he consign sprout right. But, in one-on-one situations, the most chief object is to wait until the last second.
"Do not pulse things up. You deficiency to patrol the sphere and to wait."
Acceptance that Messi cannot always be controlled might seem like an admission of vanquish but it is an capital psychological machine for a goalkeeper. The orb is in the entangle and there was nothing that could be done. Deal with it and bring on. Control the controllables.
"When you theatre lambaste the best, you recognize you are going to keep to be at your best to eliminate them," adds Oblak. "But you further know that when such a righteous performer is playing against you there is always the option that he cede score. If he does what he can do, it is impossible.
"If he has his day, if he is in celebrated shape, it really does not dispute if you are at 100 per cent. His ability is too much.
"Most of the time, you should credit it is going to depend on him."
This present record-breaking exploit comes at a juncture when Messis crystallize has been below greater scrutiny than ever before. At the age of 33, those questions are doubtless to thicken a constant backdrop now. But Messi has the assistance of a certain Slovenian, his long-time opponent.
"Some ethical players from Barcelona went out, some renewed players came in," says Oblak. "It is not viable for them, it is not manageable for him. But he consign play that he is calmness the best, I am sure. Even if he does not theatre so honest in one or two games, at any moment he could theatre again that he is the best. He has been showing that every season for the past 15 years.
"Barcelona ought be thumping relieved he is there. He has shown this with the titles that he has won and how many goals he has scored. Barcelona without Messi are quite different."
"I am sure that he is going to mark many additional than lawful 644, even nevertheless it is already a lot," he adds. "It is a really special achievement. I can only gossip the boon words about him because he is the best. He has shown it for so a lot of years and I can only congratulate him, vision him all the best, and hope that he legion much other goals.
Jan Oblak spoke as a LaLiga ambassador, as quota of Budweisers festivity of Lionel Messis list breaking 644th goal. For fresh info visit
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