Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic emphasized that Argentina under greater pressure than his team goes into theirs world cup semi-finals clashed in Qatar and talked about his team’s “strength of personality” being key to getting them through the tournament.
Croatia – into the semi-finals of the World Cup for the second time in a row – continued their preparations for Tuesday night’s game against Argentina with a practice session at their tournament facility in Al Ersal on Monday.
“It is great to be among the best four national teams in two consecutive World Cups. However, we want more,” Dalic told reporters.
“We are facing the great Argentina – a great team led by Lionel Messi. They are highly motivated, but they are under more pressure than Croatia at this particular moment,” he said.
“We analyzed our opponents. We know how they play. We know where they want to be in the game and we’re preparing them,” he added.
Dalic says his team is ready to face the Argentiniansand his team’s skill and “strength” got them to the semi-finals and he hopes that will take them further.
“We will not adapt to our opponents too much. We know their strengths and weaknesses, but will continue to play our own game and I hope it pays off,” he said.
The semi-final at Lusail Iconic Stadium will pit two of the greatest players to wear the number 10 shirt, with Lionel Messi of Argentina, 35 years old, and Luka Modric of Croatia, 37 years old, are vying for their first ever World Cup title at what could be their last World Cup.
Stamina and mental stamina will be crucial to success on the pitch.
Croatia and Argentina went through extra time and penalty shootouts in their match quarter-final victory over Brazil and Netherlandswhile seven of the eight knockout matches Croatia have played in the last four major international tournaments have gone to extra time, with a 4-2 defeat to France in the 2018 World Cup final being the only exception. when the game ends after 90 minutes.
‘They’ll make things challenging’
Argentina also trains on Monday, and Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said his team expects a tough game against Croatia.
Argentina will also be without two players because of the suspension, left-back Marcos Acuña and right-back Gonzalo Montiel. Acuña is the one to miss more, having impressed since entering the team after a heavy 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 really good team. Scaloni told reporters during a pre-match press conference in Doha on Monday.
“They’re going to make things difficult for us,” Scaloni said.
“They have a specific style of play. I don’t think they will change that. It is not defensive or offensive,” he said.
“We have our system and our style. We will not change our style.”
Dalic, who said Croatia was injury-free before the game, also said he hoped the match against the Argentinians would not be as intense or heated as the quarter-final against the Netherlands.
Eighteen yellow cards and a red car were given to the Dutch and Argentine players in a performance that was marred by disciplinary violations by both sides during the match.
Croatia has also suffered from the temper of the Argentinians in the past.
After Croatia’s group stage win at the 2018 World Cup, then Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli refused to shake Dalic’s hand.
Dalic said he held no grudges.
“I understood 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 angry at anyone in an emotional state of mind. Argentina against the Netherlands is also quite harsh and difficult to approach with many behaviors unrelated to football. I really hope this doesn’t happen tomorrow,” he said.
“Tomorrow’s game is a great match 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 some of their fans in Qatar is to enjoy the game.
“I always tell our fans and players to enjoy football,” he said.
“Each of us must love the job, the profession we are doing. Only when the players are happy can they be themselves.”