In a lot of matches against Lionel Messi, when he is about to execute a free kick, a player of the adversary team places himself lying behind the barrier to prevent Messi of trying to pass the ball under the barrier and scoring the goal. Messi said he got this idea from players like Pirlo, but I never saw in a match where Pirlo played, the players of the adversary team doing this against Pirlo. Also, I believe that in a match where Messi player, the commentator highlighted this was the first time a team was doing this, though I'm not completely sure.

Which was the first soccer match a player placed himself lying behind the barrier to stop a free kick?

1 Answer 1


The practice gained major visibility in UEFA competition when Marcelo Brozovic slid down behind the wall on a Suarez free kick in 2018. Lionel Messi was actually there, but it was Suarez taking the free kick, not Messi.

However, it was in Brazil that the practice came into being. ESPN has a nice article about it; the takeaway is that the practice of shooting under the wall was a trick Ronaldinho used from time to time, like in this brilliant shot; sometime after that, the practice began against those known for shooting under the wall. This video of Lucio Flavio scoring over the wall in 2014 shows a player lying down, for example.

According to the ESPN piece, Ricardinho invented the practice in 2013, in a Serie B game where Jorge Valdivia took a free kick. It wasn't necessary - the shot was a normal attempt to go through/over the wall - but he believes he invented the practice.

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