We will kick Messi if we have to, says Garcia

Madrid: Real Mallorca will not shirk from dishing out a kick or two to Barcelona forward Lionel Messi when they visit the Nou Camp on Sunday (1700 GMT), according to defender Kevin Garcia.

Messi, the World Player of the Year, returned to action in Wednesday`s Champions League match at Rubin Kazan after a late challenge from Atletico Madrid`s Tomas Ujfalusi injured his ankle on Sept. 19.

The incident led to calls for more protection from referees for outstanding players like the Argentina international and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, but Garcia said contact was part of the game and there should be no special treatment.

"If we can give him a kick all the better but at the same time there is no need for aggression," the 21-year-old, who will likely have the job of marking Messi, told a news conference.

"Football is about contact and you can give someone a kick," he added. "We are all footballers , not just Messi and Cristiano just because they have a higher media profile."

"He (Messi) is the best player in the world but we have to find a way to stop him."

"We cannot allow him any space and I`ll have to be focused for the whole match and not give him even a metre."

Sunday`s match will mark the return to the Nou Camp of Mallorca`s Danish coach Michael Laudrup, who played for the Catalan club alongside his Barca counterpart Pep Guardiola in the early 1990s before moving to their arch rivals Real Madrid.

With five matches played, unbeaten Valencia top the standings on 13 points, Villarreal and Barca have 12 in second and third respectively and Real, who host Deportivo Coruna in Sunday`s late kickoff (1900), have 11 in fourth.

Local media coverage of Real`s buildup to the match has been dominated by a disagreement between coach Jose Mourinho and Pedro Leon, who joined from Getafe in the close season.

Mourinho publically admonished the midfielder for not following orders and left him out of the squad for Tuesday`s 1-0 Champions League win at Auxerre.

Depor coach Miguel Angel Lotina backed Mourinho`s treatment of Leon, saying in an interview published in As newspaper on Thursday it had been the correct response.

"The way he expressed it, it seems to me he is right and the tone seems perfect to me," Lotina said.

Valencia need to pick themselves up for Saturday`s home game against Athletic Bilbao (2000) after Wednesday`s 1-0 Champions League defeat to Manchester United at the Mestalla.

Atletico Madrid, fifth on 10 points, play at seventh-placed Sevilla on Sunday (1500).

Bureau Report

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