Argentina superstar Lionel Messi explained how he “surprised” Croatia’s penalty hero Dominik Livakovic in the 2022 World Cup semi-final.
Paris Saint-Germain star Messi led Argentina to a 3-0 triumph over Luka Modric and co by opening the scoring on 34 minutes from the spot before setting up Manchester City ace Julian Alvarez’s brace.
Lionel Messi led Argentina to the 2022 World Cup Final by scoring against CroatiaGetty
Argentina star Lionel Messi knew the secret how to beat Croatia’s Dominik LivakovicGetty
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner studied the Croatian goalkeeper, who proved to be quite the penalty master as he had already saved four spot-kicks against Japan and Brazil.
The star forward did his homework on his opponent’s saving techniques next to team-mates Emiliano Martinez and Geronimo Rulli.
The Argentina captain and the two keepers quickly realised Livakovic preferred to wait for the taker to make the first move.
That is why the 35-year-old fired his shot into the top right corner at once after a short and sharp run.
The Barcelona legend knew he couldn’t stutter and wait for the Dinamo Zagreb keeper to flinch first.
Messi told TyC Sports: “I studied the Croatian goalkeeper’s technique with Geronimo Rulli and with Dibu [Martinez].
“We talked about how he waited a lot. The best thing to do was to surprise and hit it at once, instead of waiting and holding him.
“When they hold him for a long time, it’s difficult. I was determined to kick like that.”
Messi has also proven to be quite the penalty master in the World Cup as he scored three out of four – his only miss took place against Poland in the group stage when Wojciech Szczesny denied him.
The talismanic attacker may have to take another one on Sunday when Argentina face France in the final at the Lusail Stadium.
That of course will almost definitely be Messi’s final chance to win the World Cup.