Argentina will face Croatia in the FIFA World Cup 2022 semi-finals on Tuesday, with a place in the final up for grabs.
Argentina have done reasonably well at the FIFA World Cup 2022 so far, and they will fancy their chances of getting past the challenge of Croatia on Tuesday night at the Lusail Stadium.
La Albiceleste, led by Lionel Messi, managed to overcome a difficult quarter-final challenge against the Netherlands and picked up a morale-boosting penalty shootout victory against Louis van Gaal’s side. They will be full of confidence and momentum heading into this game. And it will be interesting to see if they can put Croatia to the sword this week.
Meanwhile, Croatia have exceeded expectations again at the World Cup so far. And they eliminated tournament favourites Brazil in the last round. The Vatreni have shown impressive defensive organisation, and they will be hoping to shut out Argentina’s world-class attacking unit tomorrow.
Croatia managed to reach the finals of the 2018 edition, and they will be hoping to achieve a similar feat once again. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
#SelecciónMayor Comienza la conferencia de prensa del entrenador @lioscaloni 🎙️🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/tKMHMOmJic
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) December 12, 2022
Team News & Tactics
Argentina do not have any major injury concerns ahead of the high-octane semi-final clash against Croatia. However, Lionel Scaloni will be without the services of Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna due to suspension.
La Albiceleste are expected to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Emiliano Martinez in goal. Nahuel Molina impressed in his last outing and should start as the right-back here. Nicolas Tagliafico will deputise in the absence of Acuna as the left-back. As far as the centre-backs are concerned, Cristian Romero and Nicolas Otamendi are pretty much guaranteed to start.
In the midfield, Rodrigo De Paul will partner with the likes of Enzo Fernandes and Alexis Mac Allister. While De Paul is expected to work hard defensively and break up the play, the likes of Mac Allister and Fernandez will add creativity and drive to the side.
In the front three, Lionel Messi is expected to start centrally with the likes of Julian Alvarez on the left and Angel Di Maria on the right flank. And goes without saying that Messi will be the beating heart for Argentina against Croatia.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez
Zlatko Dalic does not have any major injury concerns heading into the semi-final clash this week. And the Croatia head coach should be able to field his full-strength eleven for the game against Argentina.
The 2018 World Cup finalists are expected to line up in a 4-3-3 as well, with Dominik Livakovic in goal. The 27-year-old has been exceptional in the tournament so far as he has bailed out his side in two penalty shootouts. He will be looking to make a defining impact in this game as well.
Luka Modric told his Real Madrid teammates to keep an eye on Croatia at the World Cup 👀 pic.twitter.com/YZzitcTYW8
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 11, 2022
Meanwhile, Josip Juranovic, who has been garnering interest from all quarters, will start as the right-back, with Borna Sosa featuring as the left-back. Talented young defender Josko Gvardiol will partner Dejan Lovren at the heart of Croatia’s defence. Both players have done exceedingly well in the tournament so far and they will be hoping to shut out Lionel Messi and co. this time around.
The Croatia midfield three pretty much picks itself, with Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, and Mateo Kovacic set to start. Brozovic will be expected to carry out the defensive duties, while Kovacic and Modric will help control the ball and create opportunities for the attackers.
In the attack, Ivan Perisic and Mario Pasalic will start in the wide positions. And finally, Bruno Petkovic should start as the striker here after scoring an important goal against Brazil.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Gvardiol, Lovren, Sosa; Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric; Pasalic, Petkovic, Perisic
- Tuesday’s clash will be the third World Cup meeting between Argentina and Croatia, and first in the knockout stages. Argentina won 1-0 in 1998 before Croatia’s 3-0 win in the 2018 edition in Russia.
- Argentina have won just one of their last seven World Cup games against European sides (D3 L3), beating Poland 2-0 in the group stages this year. However, two of those three draws have resulted in penalty shootout victories.
- Despite being on the verge of reaching consecutive finals, Croatia have not scored first in any of their last nine World Cup games since a 2-1 win over Iceland in the 2018 group stages. This is the furthest into the competition any side has got without opening the scoring in any of their matches.
- Croatia have never failed to score in their ten World Cup knockout stage matches. However, they have also conceded at least once in each of their last eight, with five of their last six such games going to extra time.
- Lionel Messi has both scored and assisted a goal in three different World Cup matches, including two at this year’s tournament (vs Mexico and Netherlands). Since 1966, no player has ever done so in four separate games.
Player to Watch
The Argentine magician will feel this is his final opportunity to win the World Cup, and he will be fired up for the game. And we do not just mean his exploits on the field after his fiery actions after the game against the Netherlands.
Messi has been in fine form at the FIFA World Cup 2022 so far with four goals and two assists to his name. Croatia have an exceptional defence, and Argentina will need Messi’s genius to unlock the opposition’s defence here. So the 35-year-old is our player to watch.
Just the 🏆is missing!
Can Messi lift the World Cup on Sunday? 🔥 pic.twitter.com/cq7SmOOspP
— GOAL India (@Goal_India) December 12, 2022
Argentina 2-1 Croatia
This is likely to be a close contest with the two sides quite evenly matched. However, Argentina have the better set of attackers and will be the favourites heading into the game against Croatia.
The Vatreni are likely to put up a fight and take this game down to the wire. But La Albiceleste have the quality in the final third to edge this one. The Hard Tackle predicts a narrow win for Argentina here.
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