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Lionel Messi: Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic reveals how he nullified Argentina and Barcelona star at World Cup

Posted by On November 01, 2018


Lionel Messi: Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic reveals how he nullified Argentina and Barcelona star at World Cup

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has lifted the lid on the game plan he used to nullify Argentina and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at last summer’s World Cup.

Messi delivered one of his most anonymous performances of the tournament as Argentina were shockingly beaten 3-0 by Croatia in the group stage, while Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic all found the net for Dalic’s side.

Croatia went on to reach the final of the competition for the first time in their history while Argentina crashed out in the round of 16 after a thrilling 4-3 defeat to eventual winners France.

leftCreated with Sketch. rightCreated with Sketch. ShapeCreated with Sketch.Argentina vs Croatia: World Cup 2018 player ratings

1/22 Danijel Subasic 6

Was solid in goal but not aske to make any difficult saves EPA

2/22 Sime Vrsaljko 7

Utilised the overlap incredibly well and defended okay AFP/Getty Images

3/22 Dejan Lovren 6

Made a quality block to stop Croatia from going behind but made the mistake to let Perez in REUTERS

4/22 Domagoj Vida 6

Worked well with Lovren but had a lapse in judgment that allowed Perez a free shot on call Getty Images

5/22 Ivan Strinic 6

Struggled in defence as he was under a lot of pressure, but he handled it well and gave Argentina nothing REUTERS

6/22 Ivan Rakitic 6

Played very well, he was quick into space and accurate with his balls over the top, broke well on the counter and deserved the third goal Getty Images

7/22 Marcelo Brozovic 6

Was great in mid-field but linked well with the front men when going forward, created chances and tracked back well REUTERS

8/22 Ante Rebic 7

Lucky to avoid a red card but looked good going forward and strung some good passes together to get the ball out wide, great finish to get the first goal EPA

9/22 Luka Modric 8

Was a little quiet in the first half but found Rebic with a beautiful long ball, scored a blinder to give Croatia the win AFP/Getty Images

10/22 Ivan Perisic 7

Missed a great chance to put Croatia in front, but was strong up front and held the ball up well REUTERS

11/22 Mario Mandzukic 7

Missed a great chance to put Croatia in front, but was strong up front and held the ball up well AP

12/22 Willy Caballero 4

Made a great save to stop Mandzukic from scoring but had a howler in the second half to lead to the goal REUTERS

13/22 Eduardo Salvio 6

Very keen to get forward but left gaps at the back that got exploited AFP/Getty Images

14/22 Gabriel Mercado 6

Made some good blocks but the defensive unit was not working together Getty Images

15/22 Nicolas Otamendi 5

Was very poor he wasted possession and took too much time on the ball at the back REUTERS

16/22 Nicolas Tagliafico 6

Struggled to gel with Otamendi, the communication wasn’t there, and they took too many risks at the back Getty Images

17/22 Javier Mascherano 6

Was strong when challenging the mid-field and won more, one on one challenges than he lost AFP/Getty Images

18/22 Enzo Perez 6

Missed an absolute sitter to take the lead, it was an open goal and he put it wide AP

19/22 Marcus Acuna 7

Hit the bar with an intended cross but got forward at any opportunity AFP/Getty Images

20/22 Maximiliano Meza 6

Had a shot saved by Subasic and should have levelled for Argentina AFP/Getty Images

21/22 Lionel Messi 6

Hardly touched the ball but made a good run behind the defence and almost got to a ball that came over the top EPA

22/22 Sergio Aguero 6

Only touched the ball 7 times in the first half but made a great run and won a corner Getty Images

1/22 Danijel Subasic 6

Was solid in goal but not aske to make any difficult saves EPA

2/22 Sime Vrsaljko 7

Utilised the overlap incredibly well and defended okay AFP/Getty Images

3/22 Dejan Lovren 6

Made a quality block to stop Croatia from going behind but made the mistake to let Perez in REUTERS

4/22 Domagoj Vida 6

Worked well with Lovren but had a lapse in judgment that allowed Perez a free shot on call Getty Images

5/22 Ivan Strinic 6

Struggled in defence as he was under a lot of pressure, but he handled it well and gave Argentina nothing REUTERS

6/22 Ivan Rakitic 6

Played very well, he was quick into space and accurate with his balls over the top, broke well on the counter and deserved the third goal Getty Images

7/22 Marcelo Brozovic 6

Was great in mid-field but linked well with the front men when going forward, created chances and tracked back well REUTERS

8/22 Ante Rebic 7

Lucky to avoid a red card but looked good going forward and strung some good passes together to get the ball out wide, great finish to get the first goal EPA

9/22 Luka Modric 8

Was a little quiet in the first half but found Rebic with a beautiful long ball, scored a blinder to give Croatia the win AFP/Getty Images

10/22 Ivan Perisic 7

Missed a great chance to put Croatia in front, but was strong up front and held the ball up well REUTERS

11/22 Mario Mandzukic 7

Missed a great chance to put Croatia in front, but was strong up front and held the ball up well AP

12/22 Willy Caballero 4

Made a great save to stop Mandzukic from scoring but had a howler in the second half to lead to the goal REUTERS

13/22 Eduardo Salvio 6

Very keen to get forward but left gaps at the back that got exploited AFP/Getty Images

14/22 Gabriel Mercado 6

Made some good blocks but the defensive unit was not working together Getty Images

15/22 Nicolas Otamendi 5

Was very poor he wasted possession and took too much time on the ball at the back REUTERS

16/22 Nicolas Tagliafico 6

Struggled to gel with Otamendi, the communication wasn’t there, and they took too many risks at the back Getty Images

17/22 Javier Mascherano 6

Was strong when challenging the mid-field and won more, one on one challenges than he lost AFP/Getty Images

18/22 Enzo Perez 6

Missed an absolute sitter to take the lead, it was an open goal and he put it wide AP

19/22 Marcus Acuna 7

Hit the bar with an intended cross but got forward at any opportunity AFP/Getty Images

20/22 Maximiliano Meza 6

Had a shot saved by Subasic and should have levelled for Argentina AFP/Getty Images

21/22 Lionel Messi 6

Hardly touched the ball but made a good run behind the defence and almost got to a ball that came over the top EPA

22/22 Sergio Aguero 6

Only touched the ball 7 times in the first half but made a great run and won a corner Getty Images

“For me, Leo Messi is the best player in the world, and he is showing that week after week," Dalic told Goal. “[But] it's harder for Messi to play for Argentina than Barcelona, and we tried to exploit what we considered small weaknesses in the Argentinian team.

“The key was to be disciplined and to follow our tactical game plan fully, and our players did exactly that. We tried to stop the ball from reaching Messi and to contain him quickly in the areas where he likes to receive the ball.

Messi cut a disconsolate figure as Croatia ran out easy winners in Nizhny Novgorod (Getty Images)

“As good as Messi is, football is a team sport and if one team performs better than the other it's hard for any individual to turn everything around. Croatia were just a better team than Argentina in that game.”

Dalic also used his view that the collective is more important than any individual in football to support Dejan Lovren, who attracted widespread ridicule for describing himself as one of the world’s best defenders in the wake of Croatia’s success in Russia.

“Dejan is a great player and I think he shows that at Liverpool as well,” Dalic added.

“It is not easy to play the centre-back position â€" you depend on the rest of the team. If the team plays well, and everybody is involved in the defensive play, it makes it easier for centre-backs. If they are left exposed in the big areas of the pitch, not even the best ones can stop the best forwards in the game.

“When Liverpool played well as a team, Dejan was also great â€" just like in the Champions League final where he was one of the best players. Our whole team played good, disciplined football during the tournament, and that makes it easier for the centre-backs, and Lovren and [Domagoj] Vida played their part accordingly. He was surely among the best defenders at the World Cup.”

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Source: Google News Argentina | Netizen 24 Argentina


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