Argentina captain Lionel Messi previewed FIFA World Cup clash against Croatia

“Played on an equal footing with Brazil” – Lionel Messi admits Croatia are a ‘great team’ ahead of Argentina’s FIFA World Cup semi-final showdown 

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has already set his sights on Croatia after his team’s win against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Friday, 9 December.

Messi was the provider when Nahuel Molina opened the scoring for the Albiceleste in the 35th minute of the game. The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstar found Molina with a jaw-dropping pass.

Matheus Acuna earned his country a penalty in the second half, which Lionel Messi converted in style to put his side ahead by a margin of two goals.

However, Wout Weghorst scored in the 83rd minute and in the 11th minute of injury time to complete a phenomenal comeback for Louis van Gaal’s side.

Extra time and penalties followed. Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis’ spot kicks were brilliantly denied by Emiliano Martinez. Apart from Enzo Fernandez, all four Argentine shooters, including Messi, scored. Lautaro Martinez converted the fifth and decisive penalty for La Albiceleste.

With the win, Argentina secured their berth in the last four of the tournament. They will take on Croatia, who are also coming off a win in the penalty shootout. Dalic’s side ended Brazil’s dreams with their win.

Messi lauded Croatia for their performance. He also added that the group has been working with Dalic for a while now.

“Croatia showed that they are a great team. At times, they played on an equal footing with Brazil. It is a team that has been working with the same coach for a long time and they know each other very well.”

#Qatar2022 🎙️ Lionel Messi: “Croacia demostró que es una gran selección. Por momentos le jugó de igual a igual a Brasil. Es un equipo que viene trabajando con el mismo entrenador hace mucho tiempo y se conocen muy bien”.

Dalic has been in charge of Croatia for 67 games since 2017. He previously led the nation to the final of the FIFA World Cup back in 2018.

Argentina and Lionel Messi face reinvigorated Croatia in FIFA World Cup semi-final

Lionel Messi and Argentina were defeated by Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The game ended with a scoreline of 3-0. Messi’s side will have the chance to exact revenge on 14 December.

Dalic, meanwhile, congratulated his side for the historic penalty shootout win against Brazil. He said after the game (via GOAL):

“Congratulations to the boys. We kicked out the biggest favorite. I said, never underestimate us. Pride, faith, and patriotism. This is not the end for us. Let’s move on! This is a victory of the new Croatia. Everyone gave their all. A big greeting to our ‘friends’ who write that this is not Croatia, now you have seen it.”

Croatia and Argentina have played each other only five times in their history. Only two of those matches were in World Cups. Apart from the game in 2018, the two sides met in 1998, when the South American giants won 1-0.

Overall, these two teams have won two games each out of their five contests. One game ended in a draw. The two biggest stars in the game would be Lionel Messi for Argentina and Luka Modric for Croatia. Both are, in all likelihood, playing their last World Cup. It promises to be a thrilling encounter.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat

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