Argentina vs. Croatia: Picks, odds for World Cup semifinal

by 24USATVDec. 10, 2022, 6:01 a.m. 17
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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?

How they got here:
• 1-1 D (3-1 W on penalties) vs. Japan (Round of 16)

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 has come 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 beat Netherlands on penalties: The Messi pass, Martinez heroics and Weghorst causes havoc

Tifo video: How Croatia knocked Brazil out of the World Cup

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