Is this fate for Lionel Messi and this Argentinian team? The quarter-final against the Netherlands looked like it, with the South American team leading 2-0 before letting the Dutch back into the game. An incredible double from Wout Weghorst gave Louis Van Gaal’s team a strong comeback. But Argentina won on penalty shootout after Denzel Dumfries was shown a red card in extra time.
Up against the Argentines is a strong Croatian team that eliminated Brazil in the quarter-finals. They broke the heart of a South American nation, can they be the bad guys and do it again? Led by the experience of Luka Modric, this tournament could be the last chance for Croatia’s golden generation to win a trophy at a major tournament. However, it will be a test against Argentina.
Argentina vs Croatia: Will memories from 2018 haunt Argentina?
Lionel Messi and Argentina have bad memories of their previous World Cup clash in the 2018 group stage. Croatia had crushed Argentina 3-0 and the South Americans then lost 4-3 to France in the round of 16. These two defeats traumatised the Albiceleste.
Clash Argentina vs Croatia: Even so far
Croatia and Argentina are meeting for the third time in World Cup history, with the two previous clashes taking place in 1998 and 2018 – Argentina winning the first meeting (1-0) and Croatia the most recent one (3-0). They have met five times since 1994 with another tied record in friendlies (1W 1D 1L).
Argentina vs Croatia: 4-3-3 on both sides
Lionel Scaloni looks set to use a 4-3-3 or a variation of it (4-3-1-2) with a four-man defence and a midfield made up of Alexis Mac Allister, Enzo Fernandez and Rodrigo De Paul. A decision will have to be made on whether to include Paulo Dybala due to the performances of Julián Álvarez and the current midfielder. Álvarez should maintain his position alongside Lionel Messi in upfront positions. Nahuel Molina is expected to start after his goal against the Netherlands.
Croatia will look to make as few changes as possible to their starting XI. One change is expected at the left back position where Borna Sosa will replace Barisic who is suspended for this game. Apart from that, Croatia is expected to line up a 4-3-3 formation with the experienced Kovacic, Brozovic and Modric in midfield and Petkovic as a centre forward.
The Keys to the match: The midfield battle
Both teams seem to be lining up a 4-3-3 system (or at least a variation of it) in which the 2-3 midfield players will be the key to the game. Brozovic, Kovacic, and Modric will have to close down the spaces in midfield De Paul, Alexis Mac Allister, and Enzo Fernandez. They will also have to take into account the times when Lionel Messi will go deep to receive the ball. This will be a huge challenge for the Croatians. But they really proved their worth against Brazil in this area where they managed to limit a midfield made up of Paqueta, Casemiro and Neymar.
Argentina relies heavily on the performances of Lionel Messi, and rightly so. But when Argentina show variation in their play they can be just as deadly. The ability of Julian Alvarez and the promising performances of Enzo Fernandez and Alexis Mac Allister in midfield will be key to Argentina’s victory.
Other Predictions to consider in this Argentina vs Croatia at 8PM
We predict that Argentina should qualify for the World Cup final against Croatia, but the Croatians will be a tough test for the Albiceleste. That’s why we think we would have to wait until the second half for Argentina to take the lead. Lionel Messi has been in great form in the knockout phase of this World Cup, having scored twice against the Netherlands and Australia, we think he should find the back of the net again. We also predict that Argentina will win the game 2-0.