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22nd Jun 2018

John Arne Riise has issued an apology to Dejan Lovren

Fair play

Darragh Murphy

Dejan Lovren has had more than his fair share of critics in recent years but few defenders can boast that they dealt with Lionel Messi the way that Lovren did on Thursday night.

Argentina find themselves on the brink of an early exit from the World Cup after their defeat to Croatia which saw Messi comfortably kept quiet by Lovren throughout the Group D clash.

And the centre-half did his reputation no harm whatsoever with the way that he handled one of the greatest players of all time.

“No, of course we respect Messi, because he’s the greatest player in the world, but he’s also stoppable,” Lovren told the Telegraph. “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.”

Croatia’s midfield has earned plenty of plaudits for the 3-0 win during which Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic got on the scoresheet but the defence impressed massively as they kept out an Argentine strike force brimming with talent.

And such was the quality of Lovren’s performance that the Liverpool defender convinced Reds legend John Arne Riise to issue an apology.