Argentina – Croatia | 13/12/2022 WORLD CUP

Having already sent one South American behemoth home from the World Cup, Croatia will be aiming to reach back-to-back finals when they lock horns with Argentina in Tuesday’s semi-final at Lusail Iconic Stadium. The penalty prowess of both sides settled nervy quarter-final contests, as Zlatko Dalic’s men dumped Brazil out on spot kicks a few hours before La Albiceleste beat the Netherlands from 12 yards.

Argentina’s quarter-final win over the Netherlands highlighted their best and worst qualities as after some Lionel Messi magic put them 2-0 ahead, the game descended into an ill-tempered affair before they held their nerve to win on penalties. Under pressure following their shock 2-1 group-stage defeat to Saudi Arabia, they’ve battled their way through to the last four for the sixth time in their history, with Messi and penalty-saving goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez at the fore.

When La Albiceleste get this far, they usually continue as they’ve never failed to reach the final after having reached the last four, and as reigning Copa Ámerica champions they’re hardened knockout competitors. After one defeat across their last 41 matches (W30, D10) they’re just a game away from a sixth World Cup final – and likely Messi’s final chance at winning football’s biggest national trophy – and will have the added bonus of being roared on by thousands of passionate Argentine fans in Lusail.

Runners-up four years ago, Croatia broke Brazilian hearts by beating the South Americans on penalties after a 1-1 draw to reach their third World Cup semi-final (W1, L1), proving again they are also masters of going the distance. They’ve won five of their last six World Cup knockout games after extra-time, four of them via a penalty shootout, meaning they possess a perfect World Cup penalty shootout record (W4).

“We are experienced and we are raised as fighters,” was how coach Zlatko Dalić explained Croatia’s ability to keep on digging deep against Brazil. “Only Croats can do that,” he added, although Argentina will have something to say about that as they look to avenge Croatia’s 3-0 group-stage H2H win four years ago that levelled up the overall H2H stakes (W2, D1, L2).


Date: 13/12/2022
Time: 22:00
Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail)
Pick for this match:
“YES” – @ 1.83 ( BETWINNER )

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