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Dublin: 12°C Monday 19 April 2021

'If I smack Messi, I can't go back to Argentina!'

Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado, who will face his compatriot in the Copa del Rey final this weekend, says fouling him won’t work.

Mercardo coming up against compatriot Messi.
Mercardo coming up against compatriot Messi.
Image: Manuel Blondeau/Aop.Press/Zuma Press/PA Images

SEVILLA DEFENDER GABRIEL Mercado claims he would not be able to show his face in Argentina if he gave Lionel Messi rough treatment in the Copa del Rey final.

Vincenzo Montella’s side meet Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday in a repeat of the final of two years ago, which the Catalans won 2-0.

Sevilla had looked set to be the first team to beat Barca in La Liga this season last month, only for substitute Messi to inspire a dramatic late comeback and seal a 2-2 draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

And Mercado accepts there will not be many ways for him to stop his Argentina team-mate if he wants to avoid causing anger back home ahead of the World Cup.

“If I smack him, I can’t go back to Argentina!” he told AS.

You can’t stop Messi by fouling him. You put one in on him and he just gets up and carries on, wanting to play football. His only thought on the pitch is how to hurt the opposition and score.

“He is the best in the world, beyond doubt. He pops up all over the pitch, scores goals, lays them on for his team-mates… We’re going to have a lot of work to do in defence and we’ll have to play to perfection.

“But we are dreaming of winning the cup and nobody’s going to take it from us easily.”

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