Dejan Lovren says it is a joy to play with Luka Modric after the Croatia pair played starring roles in the 3-0 World Cup demolition of Argentina on Thursday.
Argentina, the 1978 and 1986 champions, could fail to make it out of their group in Russia having picked up just one point from their opening two games following the defeat against Zlatko Dalic’s men, who have progressed to the last 16.
Ante Rebic opened the scoring with a second-half volley that was set up by Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error before midfielders Modric and Ivan Rakitic added late strikes.
Lovren played his part in helping to shut down Argentina’s attacking talent but the Liverpool centre-half was keen to share the credit.
Of Modric’s performance, he told The Independent: “Amazing. I said to him it reminded me of his goal against Manchester United, for Real Madrid [in 2013] – fantastic.
“And he was again one of the best players today.
“I will say he has this calmness, so much experience in his career, he knows how to play these big games. As I said, it’s a joy to play with him.”
Lovren says Croatia went out to stop Argentina’s entire attack rather than focus on Messi:
“No, for Argentina, not for him,” he said of their plan.
“No, like I said. Of course we respect Messi because he’s the greatest player in the world, but he’s also stoppable. But not against one player. We defended like a team and this is how we did it – together.
“You saw it. He didn’t have many chances, and it was I would say brilliant defending today.
“To be honest, I believed, from the beginning, that we can do it, when we are really like a defending bloc, together, they didn’t have big opportunities to be honest. We had a couple of them, Mario Mandzukic and then Ivan Perisic, we had a couple of chances and, like I said, when we defend together, like a team, we will always have our chances.”