1) STOP HIM BEFORE HE STARTS
Messi has a priceless ability to build up speed and momentum once he turns and goes at defenders, often driving inside, with the ball at his feet. If the Chelsea midfield can get tight on him as soon as he receives possession, making him lay the ball off rather than risk losing it, his influence could be minimised.
2) CUT OFF THE SOURCE
Sir Alex Ferguson’s description of the Barca passing “carousel” was perfect. It is the movement and precision of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and often Dani Alves that gives Messi the room to work. Hunting down the ball before it reaches the Argentine would make difference.
3) SEND HIM WIDE
Messi often starts on the flank so he can drift inside. He will have to be double-teamed - no single player can keep him quiet for 90 minutes - but shunting him towards the sidelines, where Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic can lie in wait to pounce, could force him out of harm’s way.
4) ANYTHING GOES!
If you can’t beat ‘em, cheat ‘em. It is not pretty or edifying and does not always work, but Real Madrid’s approach is to target Messi for special treatment all game, through the likes of Pepe, Xabi Alonso and Ricardo Carvalho. Late tackles, kicks, stamps, you name it. Horrible, but it's down to the referee to decide what is acceptable.
5) GET LUCKY
No matter how good the plan, how effective, Messi will still get in on goal two or three times, so you have to hope he has an off day. Remember, he had not scored a goal against a Premier League side in England until last season’s Champions League Final - and Edwin Van Der Sar probably should have saved that one.