The most memorable and most repeated play of Leo Messi’s 2014/15 season has been the alley-oop. This play has generated a high tally of goals for his teammates and countless scoring chances last season.

Coach Marcos Reina analyzes in this video the alley-oop play and its consequences:

Why does Messi play in the right side with Barça?

0:05: First, it’s important to state that Luis Suarez’s ability to fix opponents also determined Messi’s new position. Another reason is the fact that playing on the right side (his natural defender is the left back) and then moving freely around the pitch, makes it very difficult to defend Messi. This video aims to analyze that situation.

0:18: Messi creates imbalance. That’s why opponents mark him from different fronts. Luis Enrique decided for him to play on one side...in order to finish the play on the other side.

0:28: The marker and the others who cover the areas around him.

0:34: The opposite side is free. Neymar dragging the defense also helps.

0:44: Messi’s personal mark helped by at least three others. As always, Messi is overmarked. This creates imbalance on the opposite side which has blaugrana superiority.

0:58: The defender can’t see the ball and the opponent at the same time (defensive triangle). Neymar takes advantage of his positional superiority on the passive side.

1:10: The several coverages on Messi create parity situation in other zones of the field. The objective is to attack the open spaces: full back - center back or center back - center back.

1:35: The players’ incorporation from the second line of attack is one Luis Enrique’s greatest contributions. And Jordi Alba is a key man in that role.

2:05: Once Messi carries the possession from from right to left, the opposite winger surpasses the rival mark with three purposes:

a) Be able to receive the ball in inner zones.

b) Drag his mark to open spaces for a player from the second attacking line.

c) Generate spaces for Messi’s pass.

If Messi passes the ball down the center of the field then that space creation can also be carried out by a central attacking midfielder.

2:21: All eyes are on Messi. The opposite side is free. Neymar opens the space by dragging the defender who marks the winger...

2:27: To allow Alba’s usual arrival from the second line.

2:42: Messi distributes the ball from right to left...and Neymar begins to attack the open space whether to receive the ball or to free more space on the opponent’s weak side. Suárez, acknowledges and takes advantage of this.

2:54: Another one of Messi’s pass and Neymar begins to attack the space...but he realizes they can make another play.

3:05: Messi’s conduction is now down the middle. Rakitic attacks between the defense line freeing Neymar.

3:24: Although there are some times…

3:32: that none of this is necessary.

3:41: Playing on your non-dominant leg flank favors the change of wing play and internal association: the defender won’t block the pass unless he turns his body at the same time and direction as you. If he does this, he would open a unprotected space down his flank.

3:53: Instead, playing on your dominant leg side favors the outside conduction down the wing and dribbling the defenders.

4:06: Another player, Rafinha, usually plays as a right attacking midfielder (being a lefty) to take advantage of that second line incorporations after shifting play to the opposite flank.

4:27: Up to this point, we may think the best way to stop Messi is to deny him the inner spaces...but then this happens.

5:39: Pep Guardiola: “There’s no defense or system that can stop him. It’s impossible. There’s no coach who can achieve this. He’s used to be defended in all the ways possible and he always manages to succeed. Talent can’t be stopped. He’s too good.”

Anything wrong? Send your correction.

Article translated from Spanish to English, originally published at the Perarnau Magazine by Marcos Reina. Martí Perarnau is one of Grup 14's partners.

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WRITTEN BY: Perarnau Magazine

The Perarnau Magazine was founded by Martí Perarnau, former high jump athlete, currently working as a journalist and known author of "Pep Confidential". The magazine is one of Grup 14 partners, publishing their content in English and Spanish.