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World Cup: Will Argentina crush Croatia?

After eliminating Brazil from the World Cup, Croatia will look to send another Latin American heavyweights packing for home when they take on Argentina at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in the first semifinal of the 2022 World Cup.

On the other hand, Argentina will hope to avenge their group stage loss to the Balkans four years ago and maintain their flawless record in the World Cup semifinals.

La Albiceleste have played in five World Cup semifinals before, and they have won every one of them.

They last reached this stage of the competition eight years ago in Brazil, and they beat the Netherlands on penalties to set up a final against Germany.

Argentina have already played Oranje in the quarterfinals and had to rely on the shootouts to determine the match’s fate again.

Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi set Argentina on the course of a comfortable victory, but a late brace from super-sub Wout Weghorst took the match to extra time and then to penalties.

Argentina custodian Emiliano Martínez stepped up as the hero as he saved two penalties to hand Argentina a 4-2 win.

Croatia have come out on top in two back-to-back penalty shootouts to reach this far in the competition.

First, they broke millions of Japanese hearts by beating the Samurai Blue on penalties in the round of 16. Then, they beat Brazil on shootouts in the quarterfinal after the scores were locked 1-1 in 120 minutes of football.

The Checkered Ones now need to win only one more game to make successive World Cup finals for the first time in their history.

Interestingly, Croatia did not win any knockout match in regular time en route to the final in 2018. With keeper Dominik Livaković in top form, Croatia boss Zlatko Dalić will fancy his team’s chances if the semifinal tie goes to penalties as well.

Team News & Key Players

Match referee Mateu Lahoz did not shy away from bringing out the cards in the Argentina-Netherlands game.

He produced 17 cards in the match, and two of his bookings will keep out Argentine fullbacks Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuña from the semifinal. So, Nahuel Molina and Nicolás Tagliafico will play on both flanks for Argentina.

Ángel Di María is expected to feature from the start after fully recovering from injury.

Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic is in crackling form. He is the only player with at least 10 tackles won and at least 5 chances created in the 2022 World Cup.

Lionel Messi has created 16 chances in the 2022 World Cup, second-most of any player behind only Antoine Griezmann’s 17.

Messi’s six goal contributions this World Cup are second only to Kylian Mbappe’s seven.

Zlatko Dalić doesn’t have any injury and suspension concerns ahead of the match.

Andrej Kramarić has been struggling for goals up front, but Dalić might choose to trust the Hoffenheim striker once again and stick with the winning combination.

Our Prediction

Both teams are defensively solid, but Argentina have better attacking assets and should be able to see off Croatia to reach to the final.

We are expecting a 1-0 win for Argentina.

Date: 14 December

Kickoff: 12:30 AM IST

Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium

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