Pablo Maffeo reveals he received praise from Lionel Messi after he man-marked the Argentine during Girona’s 3-0 defeat to Barcelona on Saturday.
Montilivi hosted its first-ever Catalan derby against Barca in La Liga over the weekend, but the occasion was arguably overshadowed by Maffeo being assigned the “very hard and psychologically difficult” talk of keeping a close eye on Messi.
“He asked me a couple of things, if I was loaned out by City and how old I was, but it went very well, there were very good vibes,” the Manchester City loanee said after the game.
“It was a special match for me because I had to mark the best player in the world, but it was also strange.
“Being on top of Messi is very hard and psychologically difficult because if you leave him with a few yards too many, he can score a goal at any time.
“I have to thank Machin for the confidence he’s given me since I arrived at Girona, not just for this match.
“You’re always appreciative when the Coach trusts you to do this type of work because you’re given a lot of responsibility in not letting the best player in the world play.
“You always think about what to do if you get the ball, whether you bring it forward or give it to a teammate.
“However, it was clear that my job was to mark Messi, to be with him and ensure he played as few balls as possible. I think I did a lot, but I’m sorry about the result.
“Messi didn’t influence the game much. Of course, I talked to the referee and he was right.
“It’s possible that I fouled him twice, but I had to because if I didn’t, he would’ve gone straight to goal.
“I know I had to have a bit more control, but Messi demands a lot of you. I tried to do my best.
“The defeat was painful because their first two goals were freakish and not provoked by them.
“They came from our mistakes and it annoys us a bit more because we could’ve avoided them.
“The feeling is that we had a good game and could’ve done more if we didn’t concede those two goals.
“We didn’t play badly, but we have to go on and think about the game against Celta.
“We’re having a very good season and we’ll take things forward because it won’t take long for us to pick up results if we keep playing like we have.”