Don’t expect any man-marking of Lionel Messi in semi-final, say Croatia | Football News

DOHA (Reuters) – Croatia will not attempt to stop Argentina superstar Lionel Messi by scoring him, but will instead focus on stopping the entire squad in their World Cup semi-final on Tuesday, they said. declared.
Croatia are trying to qualify for the final of the second consecutive World Cup after losing in the 2018 showcase match against France.
They stunned tournament favorites Brazil in the quarter-finals after scoring a goal in extra time but dug deep to bounce back with a late equalizer and force a penalty shootout which they ended up winning.
“We don’t have a specific plan yet to stop Messi and we usually don’t focus on stopping one player but the whole team,” striker Bruno Petkovic told a press conference. sunday.
“We will try to stop them as a team and not with man marks. Argentina is not just Messi, they have a number of great players. We have to stop the whole Argentinian team,” did he declare.
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has been the driving force for the Argentines so far, who also needed penalties after squandering a two-goal lead against the Dutch in the quarter-finals.
With no players suspended and no injury concerns following the return of Croatian defender Borna Sosa, Zlatko Dalic’s side are brimming with confidence and ready for more.
Their midfield of captain Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic will be key to dictating the pace, as they did against Brazil, and defender Josip Juranovic says the three are quite reliable.
“Mateo, Luka and Marcelo are the best Croatian midfielders in history. I don’t think that can be repeated. When you pass the ball to them, it’s safer than having your money in the bank,” said the defender.
Super-sub Petkovic scored the 117th-minute equalizer against Brazil to force a penalty shootout as Croatia have now won all four shootouts they have featured in at World Cups.
“I think a lot of people who aren’t professional footballers can take penalties successfully,” Petkovic said. “The difference is how strong you are mentally. There’s enormous pressure you’ve never felt before. But it also helps when you have a world-class goalkeeper.”
Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved a penalty kick against Brazil after also saving three in their round of 16 penalty shootout against Japan.
But it was Petkovic’s spectacular equalizer after Brazil’s extra time that led them to a shootout.
“I’m becoming more aware of the magnitude of this goal with each passing day,” Petkovic said. “Maybe I will experience something similar in the semi-finals or beyond.”


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