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Lionel Messi Equals Lothar Matthaus’ Record for Most Appearances

Argentina star Lionel Messi equalled Lothar Matthaus’ record for the most FIFA World Cup appearances with his 25th start in Tuesday’s semi-final against Croatia.

Messi is one of only six men to have played in five World Cups alongside Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthaus, Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi and Rafa Marquez have made a joint-best 18 appearances as captain in the World Cup. They are followed by Diego Maradona (16).

Paolo Maldini holds the record for the most minutes played in the World Cup: 2,217. Messi is on 2,104 and could break the record if Argentina’s semi-final against Croatia goes to extra-time.

Messi is the only player to register an assist in five World Cups. His closest challengers are Pele, Grzegorz Lato, Diego Maradona and David Beckham, who set up goals in three editions apiece.

Pele holds the record for the most assists in the knockout phase (6). Messi has five to his name.

Gabriel Batistuta and Messi are Argentina’s joint-leading marksmen in the World Cup on 10 goals apiece. They are followed by Diego Maradona (8), Guillermo Stabile (8), Mario Kempes (6) and Gonzalo Higuain (5).

Messi is the only player to score in the World Cup in his teens, 20s and 30s. Pele missed out on accomplishing the same by four months.

Messi scored his first and latest World Cup goals 16 years and 176 days apart. The next biggest span in World Cup history belongs to Cristiano Ronaldo at 16 years and 160 days.

The Player of the Match, first awarded in 2002, has been given to Messi an unequalled nine times. His four at Brazil 2014 is a record for one edition he shares with Wesley Sneijder, who received the same at South Africa 2010.

Miroslav Klose has played in 17 World Cup victories. Messi is currently on 15.

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Midfielder Leandro Paredes and defender Nicolas Tagliafico were brought into Argentina’s starting line-up.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni drafted in Tagliafico in place of the suspended left-back Marcos Acuna and Paredes took the spot of centre-half Lisandro Martinez.

The switch means Argentina are likely to revert to four at the back rather than the five-man defence with advanced wing-backs that they used in the penalty shoot-out win over the Netherlands.

Scaloni sticks with the same forward line he operated against the Dutch with Messi playing behind Julian Alvarez.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic named an unchanged team to the one which beat Brazil on penalties in the last eight with Andrej Kramaric starting as the central striker.

Forward Bruno Petkovic, whose late goal in extra-time forced the game into a penalty shoot-out, starts on the bench again.

Argentina vs Croatia Starting line-ups:

Argentina (4-4-2)

Emiliano Martinez; Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico; Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister; Lionel Messi (capt), Julian Alvarez

Coach: Lionel Scaloni (ARG)

Croatia (4-3-3)

Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric (capt), Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Mario Pasalic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic

Coach: Zlatko Dalic (CRO)

Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

(With inputs from Agencies)

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