Lionel Messi admitted that he and Argentine goalkeepers Emiliano Martinez and Geronimo Rulli researched Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic’s methods for stopping penalties before Tuesday’s final four games.
Lionel Messi, a standout for Paris Saint-Germain, gave Argentina a 3-0 victory over Luka Modric and his teammates by scoring the game’s first goal after 34 minutes from the penalty spot and assisting Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez to double the lead.
At the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the 35-year-old took four penalties, including shootouts, with only one of them (which was saved by Poland goalie Wojciech Szczesny) failing to find the back of the net.
In the past, Lionel Messi has favoured taking penalties slowly, waiting for an opponent to go between the goalposts before choosing his side. However, against Croatia, Lionel Messi chose to shoot with force and accuracy into the top corner.
Dominik Livakovic, the goalkeeper for Croatia, had assisted his nation in two shootout triumphs before Argentina’s match, thus Messi spoke about adjusting his techniques in the face of a seasoned penalty stopper.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner had to learn about the Croatian goalie, who had already saved four penalties against Brazil and Japan and had established himself as quite the king of the spot-kick.
The former Barcelona player was aware that he couldn’t stammer and wait for the Dinamo Zagreb goalie to wince first.
🎥 Lionel Messi’s penalty vs Croatia— Barça Spaces (@BarcaSpaces) December 14, 2022
Lionel Messi said: “I worked with (Geronimo) Rulli and Dibu to learn the technique of the Croatian goalie (Dominik Livakovic). We discussed how much he waited. The best course of action was to catch him off guard and strike him immediately rather than hold him for a while. It becomes challenging when they keep him for a long time. I was set on kicking in that manner.”
Messi has scored five goals in Argentina’s six games at Qatar 2022, tying with France and his teammate at Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian Mbappe for the tournament’s most goals. The two will face off on Sunday when a world championship is at stake.
In true Lionel Messi flair, he also contributed his third assist of the competition after a balletic run turned Chelsea target Josko Gvardiol inside out and then laid the ball off for Julian Alvarez to tap in and make it 3-0 for the evening.
However, with one more round of World Cup play remaining, the 35-year-old (Lionel Messi) may still be required to take penalties against France in Sunday’s championship game, though it is unclear at this time whether he will also study Hugo Lloris’ style.
What’s next for Messi?
When the Argentine faces the defending champions (France) in the final of the FIFA World Cup on Sunday 18th of December 2022, at 16:00 at the Lusail Stadium, Lionel Messi will be looking forward to crowning his effort so far in the tournament by becoming the new World Cup champion.
Of course, that will probably be Messi’s last opportunity to win the World Cup as he would have turned 39 years old before the next edition of the tournament.