Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic thinks it would be useless not to aim for a win against Lionel Messi and Argentina in Thursday's World Cup clash in Nizhny Novgorod.
A 2-0 opening win over Nigeria has put Croatia at the top of Group D heading into the showdown with Jorge Sampaoli's side, who were held to a 1-1 draw by tournament debutants Iceland.
Messi came in for criticism after that match, in which he missed a second-half penalty, but Dalic nonetheless has no doubt the Barcelona star is the finest player in the world.
However, he maintains his own players must be brave and go for all three points against Argentina, as he fears playing for a draw would be far too risky.
"Messi is the best in the world and no single player can stop him," he told a news conference.
"Our game can stop him. We have to cut him off from passes. But Argentina are not just Messi. They have plenty of good players and we shouldn't fall into this trap of focusing just on Messi.
"We're playing one of the best in the world, we have a great deal of respect for them but we also respect ourselves. It's going to be a great challenge, but we have to believe in ourselves and show our true colours.
11 – Lionel Messi attempted 11 shots for Argentina vs Iceland (the most he’s ever attempted in a World Cup game), but he still didn’t manage to score a goal. Frustration.#ARGISL #ARG #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/YDZBP9aowj— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2018
"It's the easiest game for us because we have nothing to lose. It's going to be a match that could go either way. The pressure on us is less because we've got three points in the bag but if we play for a draw, we won't get it. If we play for a win, we might get a result."
Dalic then swiftly clarified that facing Argentina was only their "easiest" encounter because there is far less pressure on Croatia's shoulders.
"I didn't say they're the easiest opponent. I said this was the easiest game because we have nothing to lose," he said.
"We're playing one of the best and this is a challenge for us. This will be a fight between two great teams. I will tell our players to enjoy every minute because they're playing Argentina and Messi."
Much of the build-up to the match has been dominated by the departure from the camp of Nikola Kalinic, who was sent home after saying he could not come on as a substitute against Nigeria due to a back problem.
Dalic thinks it was an unfortunate incident but insists it is firmly behind the squad.
"I'm very sorry this happened," he said. "It's passed, we're not dwelling on it. It lasted for two or three hours. Life goes on."
18. November 2018
|There are always imbeciles – Bonucci hits back at fans after frosty San Siro reception|
17. November 2018
|Portugal draw ´a step forward´ despite poor finishing – Mancini|
|Ireland were just too good - Read|
|Thomas at the double as France end losing streak|
|Albania 0 Scotland 4: Forrest double sets up promotion showdown|
|Italy 0 Portugal 0: European champions outplayed but secure Finals spot|
|Sensational Djokovic marches into final|
|Stander lauds Ireland´s ´unreal´ defence as All Blacks are thwarted|
|Dazzling Ireland claim historic All Blacks scalp in Dublin|
|Federer unimpressed with Zverev boos|
|Let´s get it on! Cheika relishing England clash|
|Croatia coach Dalic to speak with Lovren over Ramos remarks|
|Xhaka puts improved form down to ´freak´ Emery|
|De Gea not lacking confidence, says Spain´s Saul|
|Jordan goalkeeper scores from own penalty area in friendly against India|
|Pollard leads Springboks to Murrayfield victory|
|Fired-up Japan taught England a great lesson - Jones|
|Sarries leave it late to down Sale, Bath and Saints win|
|O´Shea fumes at disallowed Italy try|
|Southgate welcomes England selection quandary|
|Reaching Rooney´s England goals record ´definitely possible´ – Kane|
|Debut try for Cokanasiga as England rally to avoid Japan upset|
|Wembley will galvanise ´tired´ Croatia, insists Dalic|
|Zverev apologises for tie-break controversy amid O2 Arena heckles|
|Marquez happy with fifth after damaging shoulder in Valencia|
|Wales crush Tonga in Cardiff|
|Germany should keep faith in old guard - Bierhoff|
|Injured Lukaku to miss Belgium´s Nations League decider|
|Zverev knocks out Federer to reach maiden ATP Finals showpiece|
|Koroibete double maintains Australia´s 100 per cent record against Italy|
|Juventus´ Khedira sprains ankle in training|
|Van Dijk: Ramos is not my type of defender|
|Vinales grabs Valencia pole as Marquez crashes|
|I don´t deserve Ballon d´Or, Mbappe does – Hazard|
|Reed and Willett share lead in Dubai|
|Romagnoli joins long AC Milan injury list|
|Williamson steadies Black Caps after Boult heroics|
|Griezmann targets swift French response against Uruguay|
|Havertz´s future lies with Bayer Leverkusen – sporting director Boldt|
|Socceroos boss Arnold excited for future|
|South Africa triumph on Gold Coast in truncated T20 clash|
|Germany without Draxler for Netherlands game|
|Barcelona confirm Rakitic hamstring injury|
|Rain halts England´s post-tea flourish|
|Australia 1 South Korea 1: Luongo seals late draw for Socceroos|
|Irving thrives on ´peace´ of being in the zone|
|Lloris admits France could have lost by more|
|Dybala impressed by Argentina´s improved spirit|
|Arsenal chief confirms Super League talks|
|Hooker knocks out Saucedo to retain WBO strap|
|NBA wrap: Kyrie Irving sizzles as Celtics beat Raptors in overtime|
|Jimmy Butler aims dig at Timberwolves following 76ers home debut|
|Koeman surprised by dominant Netherlands|
|Southgate rallies England ahead of Nations League decider|
|Chile 2 Costa Rica 3: Waston brace sinks La Roja|
|Tite inspired by Guardiola´s City|
|Argentina 2 Mexico 0: Funes Mori´s header helps to sink El Tri|
|Lovren ready for ´fiery´ England clash|
|Brazil captain Neymar pleased with stern Uruguay test|
|Ravens´ Flacco doubtful, Jackson could start|
|Richarlison: I want to be at the Copa America|
|Tabarez buoyed by inexperienced Uruguay|
|Howell fires 64 again to extend RSM Classic lead|
|I´m proud of them - Giggs still upbeat despite Denmark defeat|
|Mancini ´very sorry´ for Ronaldo absence|
|Neymar clinches anything-but-friendly win for Brazil over Uruguay|
16. November 2018
|Cipriani-inspired Gloucester thrash Tigers|
|Djokovic makes it three wins from three at ATP Finals|
|Germany relegated from Nations League top tier to cap miserable 2018|
|Fulham will back Ranieri in January transfer window if required|