What’s it like to train Lionel Messi at Barcelona? That’s something assistant coach Alfred Schreuder knows all about since joining the club to work with manager Ronald Koeman and he’s offered some telling insight into what the captain is like on the training ground.
Messi is not the most vocal player in the world, which has often seen his ability to captain the team called into question, but Schreuder has made it clear how influential the 33-year-old is at Barcelona.
Schreuder recalled a recent training session involving Gerard Pique, who was recently back from three months out with a knee injury, in an interview with Maarten Wijffels for Dutch daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.
This week was typical: we did a practice and Gerard Piqué had never done that with us. Piqué had been injured for a long time, so I wanted to explain to him what the intention is. Messi joins us: Alfred, you don’t have to, I’ve already updated him. That’s Messi: he sees everything. He understands everything, keeps an eye on everything that concerns the team and is already thinking ahead, like us.
At Ajax, Dusan Tadic has that. And Daley Blind too. But to the degree of Messi, I had never seen it. I had to laugh to myself: also to know that Piqué has not yet done a form of exercise … That’s how smart you are.
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Messi & Pique ‘Happy as Children’
Schreuder also spoke about the players’ reaction to Wednesday’s comeback win over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey. Barca progressed to the final of the tournament after coming back from a 2-0 defeat in the first leg to win 3-0 in the return.
Pique’s last-minute equalizer saw the game go into extra-time, allowing Martin Braithwaite to net the winner. Schreuder admitted the players had been thrilled by the result and the performance.
Nice to see how players like Messi, Busquets and Piqué experience something like that. They have won everything, they have already been through everything, but they are still as happy as children. It indicates that there is energy in the team. Fun. And also development. Sure, this is not the Barcelona of seven or eight years ago. But the team is really moving forward. Talent also breaks through from their own youth.
Messi and Pique both celebrated wildly when the defender’s goal went in. The win means Barca now go on to play Athletic in the final on April 17 in Seville.
Messi Still Untouchable
Messi did not score in the Copa del Rey win but has once again been in fine form this season. The Argentine tops the scoring charts in La Liga on 19 goals, three clear of nearest rival Luis Suarez, and was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for February.
Schreuder admits opponents still struggle to stop the Barca star despite the fact he will turn 34 in June and is slowly heading towards the end of his phenomenal career.
Without an audience you literally hear what opponents say to each other. When Leo gets the ball, you hear, Foul! Kick him down!’ But that does not work and then they beat him down. Just like that, with the flat of your hand. That would always be red in the Netherlands. Here in Spain? Yellow. And then we play on. In a way that is also nice, wanting to do everything to win.
Barcelona and Messi return to action on Saturday at Osasuna in La Liga where a win will move the Catalans within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid. The Rojiblancos face Real Madrid on Sunday in La Liga.