Argentina v Switzerland: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Lionel Messi Against, Well, Everyone

When #10 has the ball, you better call for reinforcements.

Teams will have one hard and fast rule when it’s time to face Argentina: Know where #10 is at all times. Disobey and there will be consequences, most often reflected on the scoreboard and in the opposing goalkeeper’s body language. The best thing about the everyone-guard-Messi approach? The resulting images: the magician, ball dancing at his feet, framed by timid defenders on all sides. Here, some of Messi's most compelling mismatches...

HELPLESSLY DEVOTED David Ramos/Getty Images HELPLESSLY DEVOTED Defenders become spectators when the ball is at his feet. GROUPIES Quality Sport Images/Getty Images GROUPIES Sometimes it's hard not to stop and stare at the magic.
Argentina v South Korea: Group B - 2010 FIFA World Cup
Real Sociedad v Barcelona - La Liga
Clive Rose/Getty Images; David Ramos/Getty Images AMAZED AND CONFUSED Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AMAZED AND CONFUSED South Korea, like many Messi opponents, looks lost in space. TIGHT QUARTERS David Ramos/Getty Images TIGHT QUARTERS Just when you think you have him, you don't. BACK OFF Mike Egerton - EMPICS BACK OFF In neon, Messi's hard to stop and hard to miss. LEADING ROLE Mark Dadswell/Getty Images LEADING ROLE Go ahead and catch him — if you can.
Valencia v Barcelona - Copa del Rey Semi Final Second Leg
Greece v Argentina: Group B - 2010 FIFA World Cup
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images; Phil Cole/Getty Images

More World Cup Stories

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE NurPhoto via Getty Images KEEP YOUR DISTANCE Wise men say, only fools rush in. RIVAL GANG Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images RIVAL GANG Real Madrid stays focused on their familiar foe.

For more FOTO stories directly in your inbox, sign up for our weekly newsletter.