Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic shared his secrets on how he managed to stop Lionel Messi in their 3-0 World Cup win over Argentina
The Blazers handed Argentina a thrashing in the second Group D game at Russia, where Messi proved ineffective.
Stopping the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has often proven to be a mystery for most coaches with Messi’s incredible dribbling skills often able to beat any kind of defender.
Yet Dalic found a way at the Nizhny Novgorod and would later make more headlines by leading Croatia to their first ever World Cup final.
“For me, Leo Messi is the best player in the world, and he is showing that week after week,” Dalic told Goal.
Although the Croatian conceded that Messi has a harder time for Argentina than Barcelona, he credited a team effort for stopping the superstar.
“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,” added Dalic.
“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.
“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.”
Croatia eventually lost the World Cup final to France 4-2 after extra-time at Moscow.