FIFA World Cup semi-finals, Argentina vs Croatia: Lionel Messi’s Argentina have had an excellent run after their debacle in the first group stage match. But they will be up against Croatia, who have knocked out favourites Brazil to arrive at the semis of the competition.
Doha’s Lusail Stadium is set to host the first semi-final of the FIFA World Cup, set to played on Tuesday, 13 December. Lionel Messi’s Argentina are set to be up against a disciplined Croatia of Luka Modric, a team that has flown under the radar in this edition of the tournament.
In general, it is difficult for a World Cup finalist from the previous edition of the tournament to not be in the spotlight, but Croatia have, largely for the fact that they do not have a superstar value attached to them. They have got a little help in that due to their play style and results, having drawn their last three fixtures in the tournament. For that matter, Croatia have drawn four out of their five games in the 2022 campaign, having only defeated Canada by a 4-1 margin in the group stages.
Argentina on the other hand woke after their shock 1-2 loss against Saudi Arabia in their first group stage game. Lionel Messi’s side, who came into the tournament with an impressive undefeated record since April 2019, have won three out of the five games, and beaten Netherlands via a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals fixture.
Croatia will be coming into the game, absolutely cooked, after playing two 120-minute matches against Japan in the Round of 16 and then Brazil in the quarter-final. However, coach Zlatko Dalic has vouched that fatigue would not be a problem for his side, who have shown incredible mettle to get out of trouble in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina had the same problem against Netherlands, and for the two ageing outfits, it will be a challenge to keep the players fit. Going into the semi-finals, Croatia do not have any of their players injured, while Argentina might not have the services of Papu Gomez, who is still recovering from an ankle injury.
Argentina vs Netherlands saw a record number of yellow cards, with 15 people getting booked on the field. Barring those, four more cards were shown in the game, one red and three more yellows for the players and staff who were on the bench.
A high tempered game, one that Argentina have publicly called out the referee for, has seen two crucial players in their system getting suspended from the semi-finals.
Full backs, Marcus Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel will not be playing their semi-final fixture, after being crucial to the team’s success in all of their winning matches. Acuna’s overlaps and crossing has been key for Argentina in the matches that they have won, and one does wonder, how will they survive without his passionate runs.
Venue and Timing
Argentina vs Croatia is set to be played in the Lusail Iconic Stadium on 14 December, Wednesday at 12:30 AM IST.
Broadcast and Streaming
Argentina vs Croatia can be watched on Sports18 on TV and can be streamed over Jio Cinema app.
Predicted Playing XIs
Croatia: Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Petkovic, Perisic
Argentina: Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez