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Argentina vs Croatia : Lineups and LIVE updates

20:43 EAT 13/12/2022
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Can Messi magic lead Argentina to the last step of the perennial dream? or will Modric's stubborn Croatia make it into back-to-back World Cup final?

After overcoming the drama of penalty shoot-out victories in their respective quarter-final ties, Argentina and Croatia face each other in the first World Cup 2022 semi-final on Tuesday at the Lusail Stadium, knowing a place in the title match is at stake.

Argentina made a faltering start to their latest quest for a first World Cup trophy since the days of Diego Maradona, as they became the subject of a historic scalp at the hands of tournament minnows Saudi Arabia in their 2022 World Cup opener.

However, La Albiceleste have bounced back in style since and now find themselves on the cusp of the final after many had written them off after only matchday one.

After beating Mexico and Poland to top Group C, they eliminated Australia in the round of 16 before claiming a dramatic quarterfinal victory over the Netherlands last time out in what turned out to be a World Cup classic.

Despite having a two-goal lead against the Dutch with less than 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Lionel Scaloni's side went into self-destruct mode before weathering the extra-time to emerge victorious in the subsequent penalty shootout 4-3 thanks to spirited goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez's superb heroics in goal.

The 2014 World Cup finalists will now look to book their ticket to this year's final for what would be their second shot at glory across the last three showpieces.

But the big question remains: Can Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina break Modric's Chequered ones' code?

Croatia, with a population of just four million people, have yet again defied all odds by taking a South American powerhouse, and tournament favourites Brazil in the quarterfinal and are now just 90 minutes away from a return trip to the final.

Croatia had gone undefeated in a group that included fellow semi-finalists Morocco, Belgium, and Canada, and had overcome Japan in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 stalemate in regular time.Zlatko Dalic's side are a formidable opponent with a star-studded midfield trio that is safer than the bank, and the last two World Cup showings have proven that they are very capable of punishing opponent's complacency.

So, underestimate them at your own risk, but with Messi pulling the strings and looking to emulate Diego Maradona's legacy, Argentina go into the game as heavy favourites.

With 160 caps for his country, cultured Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric is understandably the figurehead of this Croatia side, but their incredible unbeaten streak in Qatar isn't just the last hurrah for an ageing golden generation.

Head Coach Zlatko Dalic has also injected some freshness into his side, with highly-coveted RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa, and full-back Josip Juranovic all shining brightly and playing a pivotal part in their success so far.

Argentina and Croatia last met each other in a group game of the 2018 World Cup edition, with the Europeans punishing their opponents for defensive errors en route to a comprehensive 3-0 victory. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this tasty battle.

Argentina vs Croatia confirmed lineups

Argentina XI (4-3-3): Martínez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Paredes, Fernández, Mac Allister; Messi, Álvarez

Croatia XI (4-3-3): Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic

Argentina vs Croatia LIVE updates

Argentina and Croatia's upcoming World Cup fixture

The winner of this semi-final will face the victor of France's last-four clash against tournament darkhorses Morocco in the grand finale on Sunday at the Lusail Stadium. Victories for Croatia and France in this round will set up a repeat of the 2018 Russia World Cup final.