Real Madrid's Luka Modric jumped to the defence of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi after his Croatia side humiliated Messi's Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday.

Messi cut a frustrated figure as a disjointed Argentina failed to take advantage of first half chances before Willy Caballero's horrible mistake gifted Ante Rebic the opening goal after half-time.

Modric went on to add a brilliant second goal before Ivan Rakitic made it three, but the Croatia captain sympathised with Argentina's main man.


"Messi is an exceptional footballer but he can't do it all by himself," Modric told TV Publica Argentina. "In football, you need help."

Modric's teammate Ivan Perisic also criticised Argentina's team ethic and said that Messi alone could not carry the team, despite his brilliance. 

“Messi is the best, just like Cristiano Ronaldo, but you can only achieve something if you play as a team. Argentina need to change something if they are to go forward,” said Perisic, quoted by FourFourTwo.

Messi scored four goals and took Argentina to the final of the World Cup four years ago, also winning the golden ball award for player of the tournament. But La Albiceleste were defeated by Germany in the final and it seems that Messi's chance may have gone.

His rival Cristiano Ronaldo is rattling in the goals at this World Cup, with four already in his first two games, renewing comparisons between the pair.

Messi and Argentina could still save themselves in their final match against Nigeria, but their fate will be out of their hands unless Nigeria beat Iceland today.

An Iceland win would mean that Argentina could only progress with a win over Nigeria, an Iceland defeat to Croatia, and a significant goal swing.