Luka Modric said Croatia “cut off” Lionel Messi from the ball but insisted his side’s 3-0 win over Argentina was not as straightforward as it appeared.
Croatia limited Messi to only one shot after the Argentina talisman took 11 in their first game, a 1-1 draw with Iceland, and Modric said it all went according to plan.
“This result and Argentina’s poor display was due to our good game, our compact block all over the pitch, particularly when we didn’t have the ball,” Modric said in his postgame news conference.
“We cut off Messi, stopped him receiving the ball. He’s their most dangerous player.”
Modric and his teammates also reduced Messi’s touches in the penalty area from nine to two, and cut the number of passes he received in the attacking third from 45 against Iceland down to 10.
“Messi is an incredible player, but he can’t do everything alone,” Modric told Argentina’s TV Publica. “In football you need help and it can’t be done alone. Although he is great, great, but it can’t be done alone.
“The way we played helped today too. We closed the gaps so [Javier] Mascherano couldn’t pass the ball in the beginning, and then later when we got our rhythm of the game, we played very well.”
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