Argentina vs Croatia: Place In World Cup Final On The Line

Written by: Greg Lea
Updated December 11, 2022
5 min read
  • Argentina edged out the Netherlands on penalties in the quarter-finals on Friday
  • The same method of qualification also saw Croatia get past Brazil last time out
  • Do not be surprised if this match is also not settled within the regulation 90 minutes

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Argentina vs Croatia Pick

Back a draw when Argentina take on Croatia in the first semi-final of World Cup 2022. This one could go all the way to extra time - and maybe even a penalty shoot-out.

Argentina vs Croatia Predictions

Argentina vs Croatia Predictions

Argentina Survive Late Scare To Book Place In Last Four In Qatar

Argentina were 2-0 up and cruising with around seven minutes of normal time remaining on Friday. A first-half goal from Nahuel Molina, which was beautifully assisted by Lionel Messi, and a penalty scored by the latter had put Lionel Scaloni’s side in a commanding position against the Netherlands, who had not even managed a shot on target up to that point.

Yet seasoned soccer supporters know that anything can happen in this sport. The Dutch, a nation steeped in a tradition of technically proficient, tactically sophisticated play, brought on two big center-forwards and started to fire long balls and crosses up to their heads.

It worked. Wout Weghorst halved the deficit with a header, then notched a last-gasp equalizer after an incredibly inventive free-kick routine. From 2-0 to 2-2 in less than 20 minutes: Argentina had it all to do again.

Penalty shoot-outs are not a lottery, as they are so often claimed to be. A test of nerve and skill, they remain the best way to settle a tied match. The Netherlands missed their first two spot-kicks, setting the stage for an Argentina victory.

The two-time world champions are now through to only their second semi-final since 1990. On the five previous occasions they have progressed to the last four, Argentina have gone on to reach the final. That is a good omen ahead of Tuesday’s titanic tussle with Croatia, an opponent to whom they lost in the group stage four years ago.

There were a few worrying signs last time out, though. Argentina invited pressure in the second half. They completely lost control of the game once the Netherlands had cut their lead to 2-1. They must do a better job of responding to any adversity that arises at the Lusail Iconic Stadium if they are to return there for Sunday’s final.

Overachieving Croatia Just Do Not Know When They're Beaten

Since their first World Cup appearance as an independent nation in 1998, Croatia have appeared at the tournament on five occasions. This is now the third time they have reached the semi-finals, an extraordinary feat for a country with a population of less than four million.

When Zlatko Dalic’s side finished as runners-up in Russia four years ago, it was viewed as a once-in-a-generation accomplishment. Yet four years later and they are just one win away from another appearance in the final. 

Several veterans remain - Luka Modric, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Perisic - but there have been key contributions from relative newcomers too, including the outstanding 20-year-old center-back Josko Gvardiol and Dominik Livakovic, a reserve goalkeeper in 2018 who has been fantastic so far this winter.

Croatia demonstrated the full range of their qualities in the quarter-finals. There was no shortage of quality, with the midfield trio of Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic able to keep the ball away from Brazil for long periods.

There was also an abundance of grit, resolve and character. Croatia never panic. Even when Neymar scored at the end of the first period of extra time, they remained calm. Bruno Petkovic notched a dramatic equalizer in the 117th minute, before Croatia came out on top in the shoot-out.

They are the kings of the post-90-minute action. Excluding the 2018 final, Croatia have now won five consecutive World Cup knockout ties in extra time or on penalties. Write them off at your peril.

Extra Time - And Perhaps Penalties - May Be Needed In Semi

Because the stakes are so high, World Cup semi-finals can often be tight, tense and low-scoring affairs. Of the last 10, only two have featured more than two goals inside 90 minutes. Exactly half were won 1-0 and extra time was required on three occasions.

We reckon an additional 30 minutes will be required for the latest World Cup semi-final on Tuesday. Argentina are the favorites with the best online sportsbooks, largely because of Messi and the fact they are a bigger name. But this looks like a very evenly matched tie.

Croatia are adept at staying in the game. Even if they concede the first goal, as they did against Japan and Brazil, they will back themselves to get back into the match. There is plenty of emotion surrounding this Argentina team - for better and for worse - whereas their upcoming opponents are always calm and collected.

After both teams played for 120 minutes on Friday, we could see some signs of fatigue. This has been an intense, action-packed tournament, so do not expect a high-tempo, high-intensity affair from start to finish.

It is hard to choose between these sides, so back a draw - and extra time - when Argentina face Croatia on Tuesday.

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How to Watch Argentina vs Croatia

  • Teams: Argentina vs Croatia
  • Location: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail, Qatar
  • Time: Tuesday, 13 December 2022, 2:00 PM EST
  • How to Watch: Fox Sports, Telemundo, fuboTV
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Greg Lea

Soccer Betting Analyst

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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Politics
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