For players like Leo Messi and David Villa a standard game of juggling or “keepy-uppy” (think playing hacky-sack with a soccer ball) is far too easy. So rookie FC Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova put a new spin on the team’s ball control exercises that only the most technically gifted players in the world could pull off.
In order to give his troops a fresh challenge, Vilanova managed to combine ball retention and teamwork — core pillars of Barcelona’s playing style — in a revised edition of the classic drill.
Circling up in groups of five, players held their teammates’ hands and were charged with playing a game of keepy-uppy without breaking the circle.
To no one’s surprise, Messi took to the game like a duck to water. The diminutive Argentine brought back memories of ping-pong legend Forrest Gump with his lightning-quick reflexes and unwavering focus.
While Messi continues to be almost irritatingly perfect at everything he does, speedy winger Pedro Rodriguez and midfielder-turned-center back Javier Mascherano could have used a few pointers.
Barcelona is in the midst of an exciting slate of pre-season games. The Catalan giant won its first game against German club Hamburg, and still has dates with iconic teams such as Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United before kicking off its La Liga campaign against Real Sociedad on August 19th.
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