Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi reacts at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Argentina and Iceland at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 16, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS
Lionel Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Ivan Rakitic will be asked for all the tips he has on how to stop the striker, Croatia’s coach Zlatko Dalic admitted on Sunday.
Croatia face Argentina in Novgorod on Thursday and could put their opponents on the brink of an early exit after the South Americans were held to a draw by Iceland in their opening game.
Messi missed a penalty and endured a frustrating afternoon overall, with Iceland managing to neutralise him through an outstanding collective effort.
Croatia, who top Group D after beating Nigeria, will now look to do the same and they have a headstart in Rakitic, who has spent the last four years with Messi at Barcelona.
“Of course, Rakitic will be my assistant for the next three days and we will certainly look for some advice on how to stop Messi,” Dalic said.
“I always ask my players about such things, about anything and everything, I love communicating and accepting every tip I can get.
“He likes it too, Ivan will tell me, I will use all the information I can, and Luka (Modric) and (Mateo) Kovacic will also help. They play against him (for Real Madrid) as well.”
This could be Messi’s last World Cup and even if he does play in Qatar in 2022, he will be 34 and likely past his peak.
It means time is running out for one of the game’s greatest ever players to add a World Cup to his collection but Dalic said he would not feel guilty if Argentina were knocked out.
“No not at all,” Dalic said with a smile. “After all this could be my last World Cup too.”