World Cup 2022 LIVE: Argentina vs Croatia team news and lineups from semi-final as Lionel Messi meets Luka Modric


Messi, Di Maria… Welcome to Rosario, Argentina’s champion factory

Argentina play Croatia in the first semi-final of the World Cup in Qatar tonight as captain Lionel Messi looks to emulate his hero, and national icon, Diego Maradona by finally lifting the most prestigious trophy in men’s football.

This Argentina team are out to win their nation’s third world title, with captain Messi only having one major gap on his glittering career CV. The Paris Saint-Germain forward was a World Cup runner-up in 2014, with Croatia – led by captain and star player Luka Modric – suffering the same fate four years ago.

This year, Argentina have endured a rollercoaster World Cup, as an early shock defeat to Saudi Arabia looked to have blown their chance of glory. However, they bounced back to qualify for the last 16, where they edged past Australia before surviving a storming Netherlands comeback to win a dramatic and bad-tempered quarter-final on penalties in perhaps the match of the tournament so far.

Meanwhile, Croatia knocked out tournament favourites Brazil in a shootout in the last round and that came after they had already got past another much-fancied outfit, Belgium, in the group stage and endured a last-16 penalty shootout against Japan. The winners of this tie will face defending champions France or underdogs Morocco in Sunday’s final.

Follow all the action with our live blog below:


Messi to give Argentina ‘special advantage’

Agrentina defender Nicolas Tagliafico says that Lionel Messi’s presence will give the team a “special advantage” against Croatia in their World Cup semi-final this evening.

Argentina’s progress to tonight’s match has largely been inspired by Messi with the forward scoring four and assisting two of their nine goals.

“He has always been like this,” said Lyon left-back Tagliafico. “For us he is our captain and our leader. He is the one pushing us and motivating us.

“He is the one who gives us that special advantage when we are on the pitch. We know we have Messi and it is a great source of motivation and hope because we all know that we can contribute and give our best. We are really happy to have Messi as our captain.

“With everyone’s support we are all working together to achieve our dreams, and it is the most beautiful thing to do it with Messi by our side.”

Michael Jones13 December 2022 17:35


The famous Croatia shirt is transforming good players into World Cup greats

In 1950, as they scarcely need reminding, Uruguay won the World Cup. The crowd at the Maracana when they beat Brazil in what was, in effect, the final is thought to have been around 200,000. To put it another way, almost 10 percent of Uruguay’s population at the time.

It has proved a turning point in the history of the global game, and not merely because every subsequent World Cup has had an actual final. Uruguay have reached subsequent semi-finals in 1970 and 2010, the Netherlands three finals but no smaller country has won the World Cup since. Until now? Probably not, but Croatia, with a population of less than 4 million, are semi-finalists for the second successive tournament and the third time since 1998 and they have been underestimated every time.

Go back a generation or two and the Yugoslavia national team used to be referred to as “the Brazilians of Europe” but Croatia have eliminated the actual Brazilians, and without being able to call upon Serbian talent such as Dusan Tadic, Dusan Vlahovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Filip Kostic, Bosnia’s record scorer Edin Dzeko, Slovenia’s brilliant goalkeeper Jan Oblak or his Atletico Madrid team-mate, Montenegro defender Stefan Savic.

As a country, in its current political entity, Croatia is barely three decades old. As a team, they are the great overachievers of international football. Zlatko Dalic – in a select group of four managers with Luiz Felipe Scolari, Joachim Low and Didier Deschamps to reach successive World Cup semi-finals in the 21st century – has channelled his players’ love of Croatia; if history can be a burden for others, Brazil included, it seems to spur Croatia on.

“I said never underestimate us: pride, faith and patriotism,” said Dalic, in what sounded more a political rallying cry than a tactical blueprint. “We are great fighters. Only Croats can do that. This is a victory of the new Croatia.”

Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic struck a similar note. “We are fighters and we played our hearts out,” he said.

Michael Jones13 December 2022 17:31


The atmosphere is building in Qatar

The atmosphere is building in Lusail, where Argentina take on Croatia at 10pm local time (7pm GMT) for a place in the World Cup final.

Out on Lusail Boulevard, just around the corner from the stadium, music is blaring and fans are gathering in large numbers to get some food before kick off. Almost all of them are wearing Argentina’s sky blue and white colours, in a diverse combination of those who have travelled from South America to be here and people local to the region who support Lionel Messi’s team in huge numbers.

Lusail itself is an odd place on the northern tip of Doha, with very little here beyond the boulevard itself, a long street of shiny shops and restaurants which runs down from the stadium to the coast – highlights include McDonald’s, Nando’s and Sainsbury’s.

You have probably seen images of this stadium by now, an imposing, brightly lit 80,000-seater: one of these teams will be back here for Sunday’s final.

(Getty Images)

Michael Jones13 December 2022 17:27


Argentina vs Croatia prediction

Although Croatia will prove to be difficult opponents Argentina have the cutting edge and mental resilience to succeed where Brazil failed in the last round.

Michael Jones13 December 2022 17:23


Where to watch Argentina vs Croatia

The first semi-final of the 2022 World Cup sees Argentina face Croatia with a 7pm kick-off on Tuesday 13 December. The winners face either France or Morocco in the final.

This game will be broadcast live on ITV 1 and STV, while it can also be streamed on ITV X and the STV Player.

Michael Jones13 December 2022 17:18


Argentina vs Croatia early team news and predicted line-ups

Argentina will have at least one change to their starting XI, as Marcos Acuna is suspended. Nicolas Tagliafico will therefore come in at left-back. On the other side of defence Gonzalo Montiel is also suspended, though he’s behind Nahuel Molina now in any case. Lionel Scaloni went for a three-man back line against Netherlands but could revert to 4-3-3 here, which means either Angel Di Maria or Lautaro Martinez might be considered for a recall.

Croatia will keep it as settled as possible, with only Josip Stanic a doubt, though he hasn’t been a starter anyway. The big decision once more for Zlatko Dalic will be who to start as the third attacker, along with Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric. Bruno Petkovic through the middle or Mario Pasalic on the right are the most likely options.

Argentina XI: E Martinez, Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico, E Fernandez, De Paul, Mac Allister, Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez

Croatia XI: Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Brozovic, Modric, Kovacic, Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic

Michael Jones13 December 2022 17:12


Argentina vs Croatia

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Croatia. Kick off for this one is at 7pm and the result will determine the first finalist of the 2022 edition of football’s greatest tournament.

Argentina reached the last four after a heated contest against the Netherlands. Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi both scored to send the South America side two goals but but a superb cameo from Wout Weghorst pulled the game level at 2-2 in stoppage time of the second half. The sides played out a goalless extra-time before Argentina triumphed in the penalty shootout.

Croatia also needed a penalty shootout to get them into the semi-finals after they rescued their last match against Brazil. A steadfast Croatian defence held out until extra-time before a brilliant and blistering run from Neymar saw he dribble into the box and lift a shot over the goalkeeper to send Brazil ahead. Bruno Petkovic equalised with two minutes to go in the match and Croatia netted four penalties to secure their passage to the next round.

But who will reach the final and who will go home?

Michael Jones13 December 2022 17:09

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