Lionel Messi has explained why he changed his penalty-taking technique during Argentina’s 2022 World Cup semi-final clash with Croatia.
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.
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.”