Croatia and RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol has highlighted the difference between Lionel Messi playing for Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
Gvardiol starred at the 2022 FIFA World Cup for Croatia and was one of the best defenders in the quadrennial event. However, he couldn't stop Lionel Messi and Argentina in the semifinals as the eventual tournament winners won the match 3-0.
Messi was on the scoresheet, scoring once from the spot while assisting Julian Alvarez for Argentina's third goal of the match.
“It was harder to defend against him than it was in our game against Paris. It's completely different - he has a completely different profile in the club than in the national team," the centre-back said while in conversation with BILD.
He further explained that Lionel Messi was 'very motivated' to win the World Cup for Argentina and that played a crucial part in his performances.
"Why? I think he was very motivated, it was his last chance to get something. For me, he's the best player I've had to defend against so far. He's small and all you can do is foul or tackle him,” Gvardiol said.
The 20-year-old defender faced Messi and PSG during the 2020-21 Champions League group stage. He came on as a substitute in Leipzig's group-stage match against the French champions, who won the match 3-2.
The former Barcelona talisman scored twice in the match with Kylian Mbappe opening the scoring for PSG.
Lionel Messi led Argentina to a historic third World Cup title
Lionel Messi finally added the World Cup trophy to his name in Qatar, which was Argentina's third world title. He was by far the best player of the tournament and was rightfully awarded the Golden Ball as well.
He scored seven goals, two of which came in the final, and also provided three assists en route to winning the 2022 World Cup.
The 35-year-old will now hope to continue his fine form for PSG. He has returned to training after a lengthy vacation following the World Cup triumph. Messi is expected to return to action on January 11 when the Parisians take on Angers in Ligue 1.
The Argentine superstar has so far scored 12 goals and assisted 14 in 19 matches for PSG this season.