Croatia are “living for the moment” as they prepare for a World Cup semi-final against Lionel Messi’s Argentina, so says Borna Sosa.
Zlatko Dalic’s team reached the final in Russia four years ago, losing to France, who will play Morocco in the other semi-final in Qatar.
Croatia were not fancied among the favourites to succeed in Qatar but overcame Brazil on penalties to reach the last four for the third time in their history.
Now they face Argentina, with the prospect of knocking both South American giants out of the World Cup – should Croatia do so, they would be the first team since Germany in 2014 to manage it.
Borna Sosa was excellent against Brazil. keeping Raphinha and then Antony quiet down Croatia’s left side, and the full-back has every confidence this team can go the distance.
“Of course. Now, everything is possible,” he said. “We are very dangerous like we showed. If it comes to penalties, I think everybody will have in their heads that we’ve won many, many times.
“The last World Cup, we were second. We are coming with a new squad with 17 and 18-year-old players, and we are showing that we have a lot of quality in our country.
“We have only four million people and we are showing a lot of good results for many years. That’s why I’m proud of the whole nation because we are really living for this moment.
“This is our biggest strength as a team – to fight together. We do not have stars in the team who don’t want to run or defend.
“We are really showing a lot of respect to the game and we are trying to give everything on the pitch.”
It was Argentina’s continental rivals Brazil that had become renowned for their dancing at this tournament.
Lionel Scaloni, though, wants his team to “keep dancing” as they bid for a place in the showpiece on December 18.
He said: “It’s an objective. Now that we’re dancing, we have to keep dancing.
“We’d like to continue, with all the respect we have to have with Croatia. Let’s hope we live up to it.”
5 – Lionel Messi has assisted five goals in the World Cup knockout stages – since Opta have World Cup assists (from 1966), this is the most on record in the knockout rounds of the finals, surpassing Pelé’s four. Goat.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Argentina – Lionel Messi
Messi, likely playing at his final World Cup, is leading the charge for Argentina as he looks to add the trophy to his collection.
The 35-year-old has both scored and assisted a goal in three different World Cup matches, including two at this year’s tournament (vs Mexico and Netherlands).
Since 1966, no player has ever done so in four separate games.
Croatia – Marcelo Brozovic
Marcelo Brozovic has been excellent as a deep-lying playmaker for Croatia, and the Inter midfielder might well be crucial to stopping Messi.
If Brozovic can block off the central space and force Argentina wide, then they might just be able to limit Messi’s influence.
This is the third World Cup meeting between Argentina and Croatia, and first in the knockout stages. Argentina won 1-0 in 1998, before Croatia’s 3-0 win in the 2018 edition in Russia.
Opta makes Argentina the favourites (55.8 per cent), with Croatia given a 17.9 per cent chance of winning.
Eight of Croatia’s last nine World Cup knockout matches have gone to extra-time, however, so do not be surprised if this match is drawn over 90 minutes, or even 120.