Going into the World Cup, Lionel Messi and Argentina were in the spotlight as one of the favorites and the ongoing storyline of whether or not Messi could guide his country to a World Cup title. So far, Messi has delivered, but Argentina faces an experienced and irrepressible Croatia side in a semifinal on Tuesday.
Argentina is favored in this match, but Croatia thumped Argentina 3-0 in the group stage in 2018. How much will that match play in the minds of the players?
Argentina vs. Croatia
Kickoff time: Tuesday 2 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT
Venue: Lusail Stadium, Lusail
How they got here:
1-2 L vs. Saudi Arabia
2-0 W vs. Mexico
2-0 W vs. Poland
2-1 W vs. Australia (Round of 16)
2-2 D (4-3 W on penalties) vs. Netherlands (quarterfinal)
0-0 D vs. Morocco
4-1 W vs. Canada
0-0 D vs. Belgium
1-1 D (3-1 W on penalties) vs. Japan (Round of 16)
1-1 D (4-2 W on penalties) vs. Brazil (quarterfinal)
We don’t get a Brazil-Argentina World Cup semifinal, but this is a meeting of the last two World Cup runners-up. They’ve taken different paths to get this far, but both are coming off penalty shootouts in the quarterfinals.
Argentina has rebounded since that shocking loss to Saudi Arabia and survived a late two-goal comeback from the Netherlands. Argentina has had two-goal leads in both knockout matches and then struggled to close out matches.
Messi has led the way with four goals and two assists. He had a world-class assist and converted two penalty kicks, one in the second half and one in the shootout, in the quarterfinal.
Croatia has managed to make it to a semifinal with just one win (shootouts are classified as draws) and while leading for just 46 minutes the entire tournament (all 46 of which came in that win against Canada). Croatia came from behind in regular time to win in penalty shootouts in both knockout matches eventually.
The other factor to watch is fatigue. While both teams played extra time in the quarterfinals, Croatia has now done that for two matches in a row. Croatia did win two shootouts and an extra-time match en route to the final in 2018.
Argentina has already played in Lusail Stadium three times. The loss to Saudi Arabia was there as well as a group match against Mexico and the quarterfinal against the Netherlands. The final will also be in this stadium.
Argentina full-backs Marcos Acuña and Gonzalo Montiel will be out for this match while serving yellow card suspensions. Montiel has made only one start, but Acuña has started every match since starting on the bench in the opener.
Argentina looked to have their Quarter-Final match all tied up as the game entered its final stages. A goal from Molina and a Messi penalty had put the favorites 2-0 up with just 17-minutes left on the clock but van Gaal sent on his secret weapon, Weghorst, who first headed home to make it 2-1 in the 83rd minute, and then finished neatly with virtually the last touch in stoppage-time to take the game into extra-time. Argentina looked stunned but managed to hold on through the 30 minutes of extra time to see the game decided by a penalty shout-out. Van Dijk and Berghuis both missed for the Dutch and although Fernandez fired his spot-kick wide for Argentina, Lautaro Martinez scored to take Argentina into the Semi-Finals.
Croatia knew they were going to have to frustrate Brazil if they were going to get through the toughest of Quarter-Final draws. The Europeans took the game to Neymar and co who struggled to get into the game. The match ended up goalless after 90 minutes but it looked like Brazil had done enough to win the game when Neymar fired the ball home in the 105th minute. However, Croatia never gave up and in the 117th minute, Petkovic scored his first international goal in over 2-years, with the aid of a deflection, to take the game into a penalty shoot-out. Croatia scored each of their opening four penalties and Brazil saw Rodrygo and Marquinhos miss which meant that the Europeans had succeeded in their mission to upset the odds, leaving the South Americans feeling stupid for not putting Neymar higher up the order of takers.
Argentina vs Croatia Predictions by Football Ground Guide
Tense quarterfinals saw Croatia share the spoils with Brazil in extra time to force a penalty shootout. Croatia progressed to the semis after defeating Brazil 4-2 in the penalty. On the other hand, Argentina was forced to play for another 30 minutes when the Netherlands snatched an equalizer at the death. However, the Argentines progressed after a 4-3 win in the penalty shootout. Here are our best free Argentina vs Croatia predictions:
Half-Time Result Prediction: Draw
Our first Argentina vs Croatia prediction is a draw at half-time. Both teams failed to secure a regular time breakthrough in the quarterfinals and with most matches now going into extra time, the clash between Argentina and Croatia is likely to end in a stalemate. We predict a draw in the first 45 minutes.
Total Goals Prediction: Under 2.5 Goals
Our second prediction for Argentina vs Croatia is under 2.5 goals. Goals are becoming rare as the clock ticks toward the finals. Croatia and Argentina have both bagged two clean sheets so far in five games played. However, while Croatia hasn’t leaked more than a goal in any of their 2022 World Cup matches heading into the semis, Argentina’s defense has leaked more than a goal on two occasions. Argentina’s shaky backline was once again manifest in the quarterfinals duel with the Netherlands. However, we expect La Albicelestes to do better defensively in this clash.
Correct Score Prediction: 1-1
Lastly, bet on the match to end 1-1. Argentina and Croatia have shown great consistency, which explains how far they have reached. The goal-scoring prowess we have witnessed on both ends is why we think these teams will yet again find the back of the net in this Semifinals. Bet on Argentina vs Croatia to end 1-1 in regular time.