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Lionel Messi Showed Why Pep Guardiola Described Him As 'The Best Defender In The World'

Lionel Messi Showed Why Pep Guardiola Described Him As 'The Best Defender In The World'

One might have been a little confused upon hearing Pep Guardiola raving about Lionel Messi's defensive qualities.

After all, Messi is an attacking genius who has scored over 700 career goals for club and country. Yet Guardiola, the man who took his game to new heights during their glittering time together at the Nou Camp, knows him better than most.

"Messi wins the ball playing as the false No.9. If you put him at left-back, he would be just as good. He is the best defender in the world," Guardiola once told reporters, as per Goal.

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Last night, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner provided concrete evidence as to why Guardiola made that statement. In remarkably high altitude, Messi captained Argentina to their first win away at Bolivia for 15 years and though it won't go down in the stats, his work for the winning goal was essential.

Messi snuffed out the danger, pressed and won a 50-50 challenge to regain possession for his side and played through Lautaro Martinez.

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The Inter Milan striker, who equalised in the first half, was able to beat a man and lay the ball in the path of Joaquin Correa to fire home a 78th minute winner.

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Prior to the aforementioned pair striking last night, every goal in World Cup qualifying for La Albiceleste since 2016 had been an own goal or scored by Messi.

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Given they were playing 3,640 metres above sea level and needed extra oxygen in their tanks it was a monumental victory for Lionel Scaloni's side in almighty tough conditions in La Paz.

They celebrated jubilantly - although things did get a bit heated at the final whistle. Messi was involved and footage captured the Barcelona talisman having a bit to say to Bolivia players and staff.

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Topics: Football News, FC Barcelona, Football, Lionel Messi, Bolivia, Argentina

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Josh Lawless

Josh is a sports journalist who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.