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Messi vs. Modric: from wooden shin guards and injections to veteran leaders to lift the World Cup

It was 16 years ago and both were already world soccer talents, qualities that they maintain to this day. Lionel Messi Y Luka modric They will face each other this Tuesday in the semifinals of Qatar 2022like four years ago, like sixteen years ago.

It was on March 1, 2006 that they crossed paths on a playing field for the first time of the 26 times they have done so. And it was a game with history for both. It was 3-2 Croatian, it was Luka’s debut in Croatia, it was Messi’s first goal with Argentina. The St. Jakob-Park stadium in Basel keeps that memory of the preparatory match for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the first World Cup for both.

There were 31 players who were part of that match -between starters and those who entered- and only two remain active: Messi and Modric. The Argentine was 18 years old and the Croatian was 20. This Wednesday they will face each other with 35 and 37 respectively, but with the same magic.

Lionel Messi

  • Clubs: 853 games / 701 goals / 333 assists
  • Argentina: 180 games / 95 goals / 54 assists
Croatia's forward Luka Modric is pictured before friendly football match between Argentina and Croatia, 01 March 2006 at St Jakob Park Stadium in Basel.  Croatia won 3-2 AFP PHOTO JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP)

Luka modric

  • Clubs: 687 games / 75 goals / 121 assists
  • Croatia: 160 games / 23 goals / 25 assists

They have faced each other 26 times in total, since they also knew how to lead Barcelona and Real Madrid in the classics of the Spanish teams. Messi was formed in the culé team and Luka came to the white team in 2012.

winners of everything

While Messi is compared to Maradona himself because of his left-footed talent and his “Maradonian” goals, Modric was nicknamed the “Cruyff of the Balkans” because of his physical resemblance to his face and because the Croatian used to play with the 14 shirt until Tottenham gave him 10.

Both have shone with the Ballon d’Or in their hands and have been considered the best player in a World Cup, the Argentine in 2014 and the Croatian in 2018, paradoxically, neither was able to lift the World Cup in the finals they played.

growth stories

And while there is no comparison in their childhood stories, they both had their own wars to face. Modric was born in 1985 in Zadar (former Yugoslavia) and in 1991 the Balkan War broke out. With his father in the war and his grandfather killed by the Serbs, his mother had to take Luka out of the house and survive in refugee hotels.

“He played all day and broke more windows with his ball than the waves of the bombs of the war,” says Marca of what he experienced at the Hotel Kolovare. He grew up like that, with a ball under his foot and the sound of explosions in the environment. At the age of 10, already with the worst of the last war, his discoverer Tomislav Basic helped him in Zadar. “I made him some wooden shin pads,” said Basic himself, who still has that garment as a memory.

They are not the best memories for Modric, but the years that taught him to form among the hardest in life. “The war made me stronger. These were very hard times for me and my family. I don’t want to drag that topic forever, but I don’t want to forget about it either. Now I have the feeling that I am ready for anything, ”he accepted at the time.

Today, at the age of 37, he leads Croatia for the second consecutive World Cup and has led him to play all the games. Finalist in Russia 2018 he is already in the semifinals in Qatar 2022.

Messi’s is another well-known story but not minimized for that. A boy who had to give himself growth hormone injections. He suffered the rejection of Newell’s to pay for this treatment, also that of River Plate.

At the age of 11, he had to move to Barcelona and leave his life in Rosario to grow in every way. The culé team was willing to accept the treatment and train him as a player. The first contract was signed on a napkin. Formed in La Masía, he did not live in it. He wanted to return to Argentina, but his goal dreams made him resist and persist.

Today, two decades later, he is one step away from a second World Cup final, two victories away from lifting the World Cup that they ask so much of him, that he wants so much, that Argentina wants so much.

It is the story of the two cracks that will face each other this Tuesday in the first semifinal of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Argentian vs. Croatia that, although it is not summarized in a Lionel Messi vs. Luka Modric, it is the duel that we all want to see.

Source: Elcomercio

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