Roma and Greek defender Kostas Manolas has locked horns with some of Europe’s best players and surprisingly, Manolas has listed Lionel Messi as only the fifth best forward he has defended against in his career.
When asked to name the 5 toughest players he has faced, Manolas named Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the Argentine maestro. Speaking to Roma’s official website, Manolas explained why Messi is so low in his list :
“He is not an out and out striker, so I haven’t marked him directly and it’s only because of that that I put him in fifth place in this list, But he speeds through opponents like bowling pins and in front of goal he always knows the right thing to do, whether it be to shoot or pass to an unmarked teammate. He always finds the best way.”
The Greek defender also explained in detail as to what traits he found difficult to defend against in the other 4 players on his list. Speaking about Manchester United striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Manolas said :
“Ibra is a force of nature, you practically can’t keep up with him during the match because he has an incredible physicality,” the 25-year-old said. Manolas then went on to describe the challenges in defending against Suarez and Benzema :
“I faced Suarez this year in the 2015-16 Champions League against Barcelona. He is someone who wants to score and who sees the goal. He is ferocious, tough to keep at bay and lethal in front of goal.
Benzema is also a difficult opponent. He is complete, because he is physically strong and very technical. When physicality and quality come together it isn’t easy to find the answer for us defenders.”
Finally, he went on to describe as to why Cristiano Ronaldo was ranked ahead of Messi on this list :
“[Cristiano] Ronaldo is a phenomenon. He has everything – dribbling, knows where the goal is, physical strength. During the tie against Real Madrid last year he had two chances across the home and away legs and he scored. Lethal.”
The Greek defender is one of the brightest young defenders in this game and with Barcelona reported to be interested in securing his services, Manolas might have many more opportunities to test his skills against the likes of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.
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