Luka Modric, captain of the Croatian football team has revealed the tactics used to beat two-time world champions, Argentina, saying they simply caged their most dangerous player, Lionel Messi.
“We cut off Messi, stopped him receiving the ball, he’s their most dangerous player,” said Modric who scored a stunning second goal from outside the box.
Modric who was voted Budweiser Man of the match further said about the 3-0 victory: “In the end our victory looks easy but it wasn’t that easy. I think the win was fully deserved, but it wasn’t easy. That first goal, in the second half, followed a mistake. It was a shot in the arm for us – we played a perfect game and you need a perfect game to beat such a great team”.
Croatia Coach Zlatko Dalic in an interview after the match praised his team for the feat at Nizhny Novgorod.
“From day one I’ve trusted my team. I didn’t believe we would be through after the second game, but I believed we would be through eventually. Argentina weren’t confused, we were excellent”, he said.
“We’ve emerged from the group after two games. We’ve beaten Argentina with the best player in the world – Messi – and we played a fantastic match, everything was top notch. However, we have to be calm, humble, dignified, put in a good shift in a disciplined and responsible manner and as a team. I want my 22nd player in the squad to be as good as my first. Hunger and desire for victory: this is the only way we can achieve something. No one is happier than I am but I have to be calm, composed and keep my feet on the ground.”
For Argentina coach, Jorge Sampaoli, it was game tactics that went wrong. He did not heap the blame either on keeper Caballero whose error caused the first goal or underfire Leo Messi. He apologised to the fans and claimed responsibility.
“I think because of the reality of the Argentinian squad, it clouds Leo Messi’s brilliance. Leo is limited because the team doesn’t gel ideally with him as it should. As coaches we need to realise these things and try to deal with them and I’m the one that needs to accept it,” Sampaoli said.
“I don’t know about shame, but I definitely feel pain. It’s been a long time as a coach since I’ve been through this experience and it’s much more painful when I’m wearing the jersey of my country. [In the last match] we have to fight, give it our all, and we really have no other alternative. There’s pain because we weren’t at the level that the Argentinian people expect of us.
“I beg for the fans’ forgiveness. Especially for those that make the great efforts to travel and see Argentina. I am responsible for this result. I believe I did the best job I could and I quite simply did not find a way to give them what they wanted.”