Croatia coach says Argentina under more pressure at World Cup | world Cup
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic insisted that Argentina under greater pressure that his team is heading towards their World Cup semi-final clash in Qatar and spoke of his team’s “strength of character” as key to their progress in the tournament.
Croatia – in the semi-finals for a second straight World Cup – continued their preparations for Tuesday night’s showdown against Argentina with a training session at their tournament base in Al Ersal on Monday.
“It’s a good thing to be among the top four national teams for two consecutive World Cups. However, we want more,” Dalic told reporters.
“We are up against the great Argentina – a great team led by Lionel Messi. They are very motivated, but they are under more pressure than Croatia at this particular moment,” he said.
“We analyzed our opponent. We know how they play. We know where they want to take the game and we are preparing for them,” he added.
Dalic said his team is ready to face the Argentinesand his team’s skill and ‘strength of character’ had taken them to the semi-finals and he hoped that would take them further.
“We will not adapt too much to our opponent. We know their strengths and weaknesses, but we will continue to play our own game, and hopefully it will give the right result,” he said.
The semi-final match at the Lusail Iconic Stadium will pit two of the greatest to wear a number 10 jersey, with Argentinian Lionel Messi, 35, and Croatian Luka Modric, 37, vying to be crowned champions for the first time in what will likely be their final World Cup appearances.
Endurance and mental stamina will be crucial for success on the pitch.
Croatia and Argentina were given extra time and penalties in their quarter-final wins against Brazil and Netherlandswhile seven of Croatia’s eighth knockout ties in the last four major international tournaments have been extended, with the 4-2 loss to France in the 2018 World Cup final being the only exception as it ended is completed in 90 minutes.
“They’re going to make it difficult”
Argentina also trained on Monday, and Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said his side expect a tough game against Croatia.
Argentina will also be without two players through suspension: left-back Marcos Acuña and right-back Gonzalo Montiel. Acuña is the biggest miss, having impressed since joining the team following the stunning loss to Saudi Arabia in the group stage, and he is likely to be replaced by Tagliafico.
“We expect a tough game and it’s against a very good team. It’s a good team and they play as a team,” Scaloni told reporters during a pre-match briefing in Doha on Monday.
“They’re going to make it difficult for us,” Scaloni said.
“They have a specific style of play. I don’t think they are going to change that. It’s neither defensive nor offensive,” he said.
“We have our system and our style. We will not change our style.
Dalic, who said Croatia were injury-free ahead of the match, also said he hoped the game against the Argentines wouldn’t be as emotionally charged or moody as their quarter-final qualifier against the Netherlands.
Eighteen yellow cards and a red car were handed out to the Dutch and Argentine players in a performance marred by disciplinary violations from both sides.
Croatia also fell victim to Argentina’s temperament.
After Croatia won the group stage at the 2018 World Cup, then-Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli refused to shake Dalic’s hand.
Dalic said he had no hard feelings.
“I understand the actors involved and the expectations were high at the time. [in 2018]. It happens and we won’t hold any grudges,” Dalic said.
“I don’t get mad at anyone in an emotional state of mind. Argentina against the Netherlands was also quite fiery and difficult with a lot of non-football behavior. I really hope that won’t be the case tomorrow,” he said.
“Tomorrow’s game is a great game for Argentina as well as for us. The stakes are high for both and a place in the final is at stake,” he said.
Dalic’s advice to his players and their few fans in Qatar was to enjoy the game.
“I always tell our fans and our players to enjoy football,” he said.
“Each of us must love the work, the job we do. Only if players are happy can they be who they are.