The last two World Cup silver medalists face each other in this World Cup semi-final, with only one gall in mind: to obtain the “golden ticket” for Sunday’s Final. This Argentina vs Croatia match has two unique teams facing each other: Argentina knows that it is a “now or never” situation, as it is Lionel Messi’s last World Cup, but Croatia is ready to upset yet another Latin American superpower.
This Argentina vs Croatia clash is the aftermath of two heart-breaking quarter-finals, both decided in a penalty shootout. They built two of the tournament’s most emotionally strong teams by staying focused on their ideal way of playing the game.
Argentina vs Croatia
Date: 13 December 2022
Time: 19:00 (GMT)
Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail)
It was one year and five days before Messi was born, when Argentina won their second World Cup, behind Diego Maradona’s heroics. The country has since been waiting for another leader to bring the team to the top. Lionel Messi has won everything in his career. Everything but this. He came very close in 2014, but Mario Gotze’s overtime goal sent the Argentinians back home empty-handed.
But this year’s Argentina is a team on a mission. We saw that against the Netherlands. Lionel Scaloni’s men are willing to become football’s bad boys, in order to achieve their dream. Will we see the same mentality in this Argentina vs Croatia semi-final? Only time will tell.
What Croatia has achieved since gaining independence, in the mid-1990s, is nothing short of miraculous. A small country of fewer than 4 million has gone to the World Cup semi-finals not once, not twice, but thrice. Croatia is without any doubt the European Uruguay. The only difference is that the Croatians are achieving this in a much tougher era.
There has only been one team in history to beat both Brazil and Argentina in the knockout stage of the same World Cup. It was Germany, back in 2014, when they defeated Brazil in the semi-final, by 7-1, before that overtime final win versus Argentina.
Here is how the two teams got to this Argentina vs Croatia semi-final. See their journey before wagering using a bookmaker bonus, or straight up.
vs Saudi Arabia: 1-2
vs Mexico: 1-0
vs Poland: 2-0
vs Australia: 2-1
vs Netherlands: 2-2 (4-3 pen.)
No.1 for In-Play
vs Morocco: 0-0
vs Canada: 4-1
vs Belgium: 0-0
vs Japan: 1-1 (3-1 pen.)
vs Brazil: 1-1 (4-2 pen.)
We still can’t figure out what happened in the encounter of Argentina vs the Netherlands. Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz handed out 18 yellow cards in this match with a wild ending, between two teams that were just getting into each other’s faces. Due to this situation, coach Scaloni cannot count on two of his full-backs: Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel, who are suspended for the semi-final.
Rodrigo de Paul is still not fully fit. He could have missed the quarter-final with an injury but played through soreness until he had to leave the pitch for Leandro Paredes. We could see Lautaro Martinez as the attacker in front of Lionel Messi, after his first actual good display in the tournament and his decisive penalty in the last match.
Croatia may be an older squad in comparison to others in this tournament, but Zlatko Dalic has very experienced players in his ranks, who know how to be helpful but also save their energy, keeping their bodies fresh and injury-free.
The squad is fully fit with no suspensions, meaning that we will see all the familiar faces. Bruno Petkovic will cash his outstanding performance against Brazil, starting again in the front, after Andrej Kramaric’s quiet performances as of late.
Argentina (4-3-3): E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Di Maria, Messi, La. Martinez
Croatia (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Petkovic, Perisic
It seems that both teams will try to exhaust each other, leading the game to extra time or even on penalties. Before you make your actual wager, check whether your sportsbook has a bookmaker bonus available for the game. Argentina’s last two semi-finals went to a penalty shootout and at the same time, Croatia has already had two successful shootouts in the last week. Luka Modric’s team drew six times in its last nine World Cup matches, with the current record being three in a row.
Argentina vs Croatia tip: Draw @3.45
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