Lionel Messi doesn't scare France, says defiant Theo Hernandez

By Sports Desk December 15, 2022 704

Theo Hernandez defiantly stated Lionel Messi does not scare France, while Olivier Giroud is intent on denying the Argentina legend a dream World Cup swansong in Sunday's final.

Les Bleus are on the cusp of defending the title they won in Russia four years ago after a workmanlike 2-0 victory over Morocco in Wednesday's second semi-final.

The showpiece fixture will be Messi's final World Cup game and, at least for the football romantics, would be seen as a fitting send-off for one of the all-time greats.

But France will have little time for sentiment as they aim to be crowned world champions for the third time and Milan full-back Hernandez said Les Bleus are not fearful of Argentina's talisman – who was star of the show in La Albiceleste's own last-four triumph over Croatia.

"Now we must think about the final, I am tired but it's so good to win a World Cup semi-final," Hernandez said in quotes reported by Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Now we must recover for Sunday, we are not scared of Messi, but Argentina are an incredible team and we have a few days to work."

Giroud, who during the tournament has become France's all-time leading goalscorer, was part of the side that defeated Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16 at Russia 2018.

In that game, N'Golo Kante – missing in Qatar through injury – was tasked with a man-marking job on Messi, whose five goals at this tournament are matched only by Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe.

Giroud gave little away as to whether a similar tactic will be employed but said the whole collective will do their part to deny Messi the biggest prize of his illustrious career.

"Messi is an incredible player, but we are not going to let him enjoy the best night he can have," he said.

"We want to win this game. We want to win another World Cup – and we will try everything to stop him. 

"But there is not only Messi in that team. They have got great players who work for the team also. I think that is why they are so strong.

"I don't know if we need a special plan. I remember back in the days of 2018, N'Golo was all the game on his back, behind him. But this time I don't know what will be the plan. We will see with the manager."

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 December 2022 08:14
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