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L. Messi

Messi explains changing penalty-taking technique in Argentina’s 2022 World Cup semi-final clash with Croatia

12:38 GMT 15/12/2022
Lionel-Messi
Lionel Messi has explained why he changed his penalty-taking technique during Argentina’s 2022 World Cup semi-final clash with Croatia.
  • All-time great on target at Qatar 2022
  • Has scored four times from the spot
  • Elusive global title now within reach

WHAT HAPPENED? That spot-kick was the 35-year-old’s fourth – including shootouts – at a global gathering in Qatar, with only one of those (which was saved by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny) failing to hit the back of the net. Messi has tended to favour a patient approach to penalty duty, waiting for an opponent to move between the sticks before picking his side, but opted to go for power and precision against Croatia when firing into the top corner.

WHAT THEY SAID: With Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic having helped his country to two shootout victories prior to facing Argentina, Messi said on changing his ways against a proven penalty stopper: "I studied the Croatian goalkeeper's technique with (Geronimo) Rulli and with Dibu (Emi Martinez). We talked about how he waited a lot. The best thing to do was to surprise and hit him 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."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi has found the target in five of Argentina’s six games at Qatar 2022, making him the joint-top scorer at the tournament alongside Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe – who he will line up against when a global crown comes up for grabs on Sunday.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Argentina are set to face defending champions France in the 2022 World Cup final, with Messi hoping that he will get a few more sights of goal against Les Bleus while avoiding the drama of another battle of nerves in a dreaded shootout.