Argentina v Croatia
Tuesday Dec 13, 19:00 GMT
Messi’s World Cup dream lives on! While Ronaldo was helpless as Portugal fell in the quarterfinal tothe Atlas Lions of Morocco, Messi and Argentina forged ahead by getting the better of a stubborn Netherlands side via penalty kicks.
Messi and the La Albiceleste have grown into the competition and clearly come into this semifinal encounter as favorites. While an attack featuring Messi, Alvarez, Martinez, and Di Maria will always look like the team’s strongest department, the Argentine defense has been just as good or even better.
However, Louis van Gaal’s decision to use two tall attackers and switch to route-one football produced two late goals, exposing a weakness in Albiceleste's backline. Height isn’t abundant in the back line, as Otamendi, Martinez, and Romero don’t measure up.
Looking for a team that knows how to hang in there and get the job done? Croatia has shown that experience can go a long way in football’s most prestigious competition. Croatia has mastered the act of looking weaker on paper but finding a way to secure victory.
Surviving to the semifinals of a second straight World Cup is no mean feat, and Croatia will be eager to better 2018 mark by reaching the final if not claiming the Cup. Croatia’s strength lies in the midfield trio of Modric, Kovacic, and Brozovic who have played together for a long time.
The defense led by the highly rated Gvardiol and experienced Lovren has also been exemplary. It would also be a mistake not to mention shot stopper Livakovic, the team’s hero in the last two penalty shootouts.
Argentina is without Acina and Montiel, both suspended. Croatia has a clean slate and empty physio room.
Prediction: 2 - 1
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