After missing four of the eight penalties for both club and country last year, Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi accepted that he needs to work on his disappointing record from the penalty spot.
The 31-year old, who missed a crucial penalty for Argentina against Icelant at the FIFA World Cup 2018, told Catalunya Radio, “I would like to be more effective from the penalty spot. But it’s difficult to work on penalties. It’s not the same taking them in training as it is in a game. You can have an idea in your head or something you have worked on, but it’s more difficult than it seems.”
“The goalkeeper has a lot to do with it, too. If they guess right, they save it. But it’s obvious that I’d like to get better at taking penalties.”
Messi has missed a total of 24 penalties in his career and decided to give Luis Suarez spot-kick duties in Barcelona’s match against Huesca before the International break despite being a goal away from hat trick.
However, Messi has improved in other areas including creating goals and scoring from free kicks. “I’m most proud of how my final pass has improved,” he said. “In the last year, I think I have developed a lot when it’s come to setting up chances, whether they’ve ended up in goals or not. In that sense, I have grown a lot. I’ve also improved at taking free kicks a lot, even with my right foot. I am always trying to learn and improve every day.”
“It’s normal that your game evolves,” he said. “When I made my debut I was 17. I played in a different position and in a different way back then. Football has changed since, as has my way of playing and moving around the pitch.
“I like where I play now the most. Teams sit deep and put a lot of people in the middle, so it’s easier getting the ball a little deeper and coming inside from further out. Moving to the wing means that a lot of the time, the full-back doesn’t know what they’re meant to do. In the middle, it’s harder to get the ball, because there are fewer spaces and a lot of bodies,” he added.