Men from Barca and Real plot Messi’s downfall

Amol Gokhale
Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Argentina take on Croatia in a game that would decide the fate of Group D in Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod: "Of course, (Ivan) Rakitic will be my assistant for the next three days, and we will certainly look for some advice on how to stop (Lionel) Messi," Croatia coach Dalic Zlatko announced last week.

But, it won't just be Barcelona man he will be looking to for tips against Argentina captain. He will be turning to Real Madrid duo of Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic for some more useful tips as he prepares his team for a crucial Group 'D' match against Argentina here on Thursday.

So, it will be men from Spanish league's arch-rivals--Real Madrid and Barcelona--will be joining hands to try and stop five-time World Player of the year, who plays for Barcelona.

To add more to the irony of things, Jorge Sampaoli, who coached Spanish side Sevilla would be turning to his captain about how they can come up with a plan to try and stop the midfielder duo from Croatia.

Once all the Spanish connection is over, there is an Italian connection between Croatia's Mario Mandzukic and the Argentine duo of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain, who all play for Italian champions Juventus.

The game is of more importance to Argentina after their 1-1 draw against Iceland, rather than their opposite number, who beat Nigeria 2-0.

Anything but a win would leave the 2014 finalists in a spot of bother going into the final group game and where they finish in the group, could also change their fortunes in knock-out phases.

Sampaoli would have to make optimum use of attacking talent at his disposal without hampering the balance of the side and ensure that potent frontline of Croatia doesn’t breach their own defence, which was given few problems by Iceland.

And, one more thing, pray, Messi doesn’t miss a penalty...

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