Argentina came into the World Cup as second-favorites to win the tournament, behind only Brazil.
The tournament seemed destined to pit the two South American rivals against each other in this semifinal, but Croatia spoiled the party by downing Brazil in the quarters.
The Croatians are aiming to reach their second-straight title match, after falling just short at the hands of France four years ago.
Both Argentina and Croatia overcame their opponents via penalty kicks to advance to the 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinals.
Argentina and Croatia have clashed 4 times previously, matches that ended with 2 wins apiece.
Argentina has scored 9 goals in regular time ahead of the Semifinals clash with Croatia.
On the other hand, the Checkered Ones have scored 6 goals in regular time in this year’s World Cup till now.
Croatia has been involved in four penalty shootouts in the past two World Cups – and won them all.
At this finals, it beat Japan 3-1 on penalties and Brazil 4-2. Goalkeeper Dominik Livaković, of Dinamo Zagreb, saved three shots from the spot against Japan and another against Brazil.
Much of the focus is going to be on Messi but it may be another factor that settles Tuesday’s semi-final – how effectively Argentina’s midfield can deal with Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic.
If it goes to penalties
Argentina won a tense and contentious quarterfinal against Netherlands 4-3 on penalties, with Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez saving two.
Martínez has developed a reputation as a penalty expert, having also saved three times in last year’s Copa America semifinal win.
He likes to play mind games with the penalty taker, talking to them as they walk to the spot.
Martinez also bounces on his line as they prepare to take the shot, to distract the players.
It’s safe to say that both teams boast of goalkeepers who are adept at handling penalties.
Lionel Scaloni might make a tactical change if Angel Di Maria is fit.
He set his team up with a back five against the Netherlands but could need a little more attacking power, given how Croatia will play defensively.
Fullbacks Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel are both suspended. So expect Nicolas Tagliafico on the left and Nahuel Molina on the right.
The midfield will be where the battle will play out on Tuesday night.
While Luka Modric will invariably be a pivotal figure for the Vatreni, Mateo Kovacic will be even more crucial to keep La Albiceleste at bay.
The 28-year-old has been relentless in his pursuit to keep the most dangerous opponents as far away from Dominik Livakovic as possible.
The former Real Madrid midfielder is a pressing monster that adds another layer to Croatia’s midfield. And his task will be – keep the ball away from Messi. At the same time, Kovacic will be critical in moving Croatia forward during transitions, that too at a quick tempo.
Argentia predicted lineup
Emiliano Martinez, Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Angel Di Maria, Rodrigo de Paul, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister, Lionel Messi, and Julian Alvarez.
Croatia predicted lineup
Dominik Livakovic, Borna Sosa, Josko Gvardiol, Dejan Lovren, Josip Juranovic, Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric and Nikola Vlasic.
We expect a stalemate in normal and extra time. In the penalties, Argentina will go through.