DOHA, Qatar – Two games stand between Lionel Messi and World Cup triumph, but Tuesday’s showdown at the Lusail Stadium in Turkey requires Argentina to defeat Croatia.
After defeating tournament favorite Brazil in the previous round, the European team has once again defied the odds to advance to yet another World Cup semifinal. There is no doubt that Argentina will have its work cut out for it if it hopes to get to the final.
On Friday, the Croats defeated a talented Brazil squad in a penalty shootout after forcing extra time with a last-second equalizer. Dominik Livakovi’s heroics in goal helped the Croats win the shootout.
The Croatian side, who had a solid defense and was well-prepared, stopped the Brazilians from playing their entertaining brand of football. The Brazilians had been the tournament’s standout team due to their attacking dynamism.
Argentina and Messi will need to be prepared for such a task, but the team has already shown that it is willing to work extremely hard to prevail in Qatar 2022.
In a bloody contest on Friday that demonstrated the South Americans would not be taken lightly, Messi and company were also dragged into penalties before winning their quarterfinal match against the Netherlands.
Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel, two defenders who received cautions in the quarterfinals, were both suspended following the tense match.
Further adding to the strain on Messi to lead his team to its first World Cup final since 2014 is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Angel Di Maria’s fitness.
The magician has been in excellent form throughout the tournament, scoring four goals so far, but his playmaking skill has also been a major factor in how deadly he has been.
Despite the fact that his previously lightning-quick speed has diminished, the 35-year-passing old and vision have been nothing short of amazing during the competition.
For instance, his no-look assist against the Netherlands for Argentina’s first goal was pure genius.
Despite the danger he presents, striker Bruno Petkovic claims that Croatia won’t become fixated on stopping just one player.
According to Petkovic, who spoke to reporters on Sunday, “We don’t have a precise plan for stopping Messi yet, and generally we don’t concentrate on stopping one player but the entire squad.”
We won’t use man-marking; instead, we’ll work as a team to stop them. Messi is only one of several outstanding players for Argentina. The entire Argentina team must be stopped.
Meanwhile, Croatia, which lost to France in the 2018 final, will be hoping that its seasoned captain Luka Modri can lead the team to another championship game.
With a succession of great performances, the 37-year-old has turned back the hands of time in Qatar and preserved his team’s chances of another soccer miracle.
Mateo Kovai and Marcelo Brozovi, two more midfielders who have aided him, will test Argentina on Tuesday.
“The best midfield in Croatian history belongs to Mateo, Luka, and Marcelo. It can’t, in my opinion, be done again. According to Reuters, defender Josip Juranovi noted that passing the ball to someone is safer than keeping your money in the bank.
Argentina has emerged as the front-runner to win the World Cup, according to statistics provider Gracenote Sports.
“The team’s [Argentina’s] likelihood of winning is 41%. According to Gracenote, France has a 26% chance of winning the 2018 World Cup and successfully defending their title.
Morocco and Croatia, the surprise semifinalists, have a 17% and 16% probability, respectively, of winning the global championship.
Argentina vs. France, which has a 37.5% chance of occurring, is the most likely World Cup final out of the four remaining scenarios, according to Gracenote.