Hello and welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the FIFA World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Croatia, happening at the Lusail stadium.
Post match comments
Player of the match: Lionel Messi
Perfectly balanced, as all things should be..
Argentina and Messi are through to the final!! A dominating display of skills from La Albieceleste as Messi and Alvarez shone on the night that mattered the most. La Albieceleste will either face defending champion France or Morocco in the final.
Five minutes added
Petkovic on the left puts in a through ball to find Majer and the latter shoots on the run. But the shot is too weak to test someone of Emi Martinez’ calibre
Mac Allister OUT, Correa IN; Molina OUT, Foyth IN
Corner for Croatia as Tagliafico heads the ball wide. Majer takes it and lets in a rather low kept shot. The ball takes a deflection and goes agonisingly close to a sliding Lovren. Beautifully worked corner that
CHANCE!! Mac Allister squanders a chance. Argentina was awarded a free kick and Messi capitalised to take it quickly to find Dybala in the middle. The latter then chipped it to Mac Allister who shot the volley wide
Luka Modric OUT, Majer IN
With a goal and two assists this game, Messi has become the first player to score and assist in three different games in a single edition of World Cup since 1966
Alvarez OUT, Dybala IN; De Paul OUT, Palacios IN
Kramaric OUT, Livaja IN
Nicolas Otamendi is booked
ALVAREZ AND MESSI!!! Messi makes a marvelous run ont he right with Gvardiol marking him. The PSG star glides past the number 20 inside the box and puts in a pass as Julian Alvarez slots it in!
Cristian Romero is booked following a rash challenge on Petkovic
Julian Alvarez collides onto Modric and the referee is quick to award Croatia of a penalty. But nothing comes off it
Modric takes the free-kick and whips out a lofted ball in a set piece situation. Lovren heads the ball but Emi Martinez pushes it wide. The ball is finally cleared right before the goal line
Paredes OUT, Lisandro Matrinez IN
Free-kick for Croratia as Paredes mistimes his sliding tackle on Modric.
CHANCE!! Fernandez’ through ball finds Leo Messi inside the box and the latter puts in a shot close-range. Livakovic does well to duck and deflect the shot away
Fernandez gets a well directed long ball and his first touch is on point. He runs in and puts a short pass in an attempt to find Alvarez but Gvaridol intercepts
Vlasic whips out a shot but it is deflected and that makes it easier for Emi Martinez to grab it
Brozovic OUT, Petkovic IN
Chaos outside the box as two Argentina players are down - Messi and Mac Allister. Paredes gets the ball finally and he lashes out a long range shot that goes straight to Livakovic
Free kick for Croatia as Otamendi fouls Sosa. Modric takes it and whips in a searching lofted ball but Emi Martinez jumps to collect the ball
Pasalic OUT, Vlasic IN; Sosa OUT, Orisic IN
Argentina begins as Messi kicks the ball
Messi makes a brilliant run, dribbling past four defenders and reaches deep into the right flank but is pushed down. The referee blows the whistle, not for the foul but as an indication that the added 4 minutes is up.
Four added minutes
Dangerous looking attack from Croatia. As Kramaric on the right finds Modric right outside the box. The Real Madrid man whips out a powerful shot but it is delfected. Juranovic gets the ball and puts in a cross but Pasalic is caught offside
LIVAKOVIC!! Brilliant save yet again. Corner for Argentina and Messi took it. A searching curler from messi comes in and Tagliafico gets his head to it. Livakovic dives full length to push the ball away
JULIAN ALVAREZ!!!! WHAT A RUN!! Counter attack started as messi kneels to find Alvarez in the Argentinian half. The latter then makes a sensational run towards the penalty box. He had options to pass as two defenders converged. Sosa tried to intercept but the ball bounced back to Alvarez who chiped it through Livakovic for an outstanding solo goal
Familiar territory for Leo Messi as he stands to take the penalty. AND HE HAS DONE IT!! SLOTS IT INTO THE RIGHT TOP CORNER. Livakovic dives the correct way but the shot proves too powerful for the experienced custodian
PENALTY FOR ARGENTINA AS LIVAKOVIC OBSTRUCTS JULIAN ALVAREZ INSIDE THE PENALTY BOX! Croatian players surround the match official and he penalises Kovacic too.
Brilliant run from Kovacic as he runs through a couple of Argentinian challenges to find Kramaric who is fouled and it is a free-kick. A set piece situation for Modric but nothing comes off it
Attack from Argentina on the left. Paredes dishes out a wonderful through ball as Tagliafico runs towards and whips a cross. But a deflection from a sliding juranovic misdirects the ball
Gvardiol commits a blunder while clearing the ball and it goes directly to Messi. But the latter couldn’t complete the shot and it’s a goal kick for Croatia
Argentina is losing posession on a regular basis. This time, it’s Fernandez. He thinks a bit before passing the ball and the Croatian defense is quick to latch on to him
Messi.. as good as it gets. He recieves the ball on the right with three Croatians converging on to him but La Pulga pulls off a beautiful move to counter them and pass it back to Molina
Corner for Croatia as Tagliafico’s interception on Juranovic forces the ball out of play. Skipper Modric will take the corner, he decides to put in a short pass. A lofted cross goes in an attempt to find Dejan Lovren but he heads it wide
Argentina on the counter now. Alvarez on the left chips it to Fernandez in the middle. The latter then puts in a through ball directed towards Messi but the PSG playmaker falls down. A protest from Messi but the referee says play on
Cristian Romero puts in an important sliding tackle to kick the ball out as Croatia looked threatening on the right yet again. Perisic from the middle tried to find Pasalic
A attack brews for Croatia as Perisic initiates it on the right flank. He passes in an attempt to find Pasalic but Molina does well to intercept and clears the ball
Modric is tripped but keeps going but Tagliafico gets posession. But the Croatian defense reacts as Tagliafico is fouled for an Argentinian free-kick
Argentina taking things slow as the players exchange short passes in the middle. Croatia finally gets hold of the ball as Paredes overdoes a long ball for a goal kick for Croatia
First attack from Croatia as a long ball, aimed towards Pasalic comes in. Nahuel Molina overtakes Pasalic and clears the ball out of danger
Croatia starts the proceedings and it will play right to left for the first 45 minutes. Andrej Kramaric has his first touch of the match as he gets the ball rolling
The 2018 group stage clash recap is about to get underway. National anthems are being played. Argentina will hope to keep its title hunt to hand its golden boy Lionel Messi, the one trophy that has eluded him. Meanwhile, 2018 runner-up Croatia will aim to go all the way this time
12:00am - If Lionel Messi plays, he will equal Lothar Matthaus for the most appearances in World Cup history (25). As well as being Argentina’s joint-highest goalscorer in the competition (10), he’s one assist away from equalling Diego Maradona’s overall record of eight at World Cup finals (since 1966).
11:45pm - Croatia has never failed to score in their 10 World Cup knockout stage matches. However, it has also conceded at least once in each of its last eight, with five of their last six such games going to extra time.
11:38pm - Argentina has won just one of its last seven World Cup games against European sides (D3 L3), beating Poland 2-0 in the group stages this year. However, two of those three draws have resulted in penalty shootout victories.
11:28pm - Following its penalty shootout victory against Brazil in the quarterfinal, Croatia could become just the second side to eliminate both Brazil and Argentina from the knockout stages of the same World Cup, after Germany in 2014.
11:22pm - Croatia, the losing finalists in 2018, could become the fourth European nation to reach consecutive World Cup finals after Italy (1934, 1938), Netherlands (1974, 1978) and Germany (1982, 1986, 1990).
11:14pm - Argentina is looking to reach the World Cup final for the sixth time, a figure bettered only by Germany (8). It has never been eliminated at the semifinal stage before, most recently beating the Netherlands in 2014.
Lionel Messi and Luka Modric would again be adversaries; both have waged a war for eternity – the engine of Barcelona (Messi is no longer in Catalunya to the dismay of many) and Real Madrid in one of football’s greatest club rivalries. Now, they face off in another bitter battle at the grand settings of the Lusail Stadium, the hopes of their nations to make it to yet another World Cup final.
Both have come close but faltered in the end – Messi in 2014 and Modric the heartbreak (2018) is more recent. They have aged since, and their games are now different.
Modric, perhaps troubled by the years of those niggles, can hardly last a full game but still runs the Croatian play with a perfect partnership with Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic in the middle. The 37-year-old completed 103 of his 115 attempted passes (the most by a player in the quarterfinal against Brazil), while the trio regained possession 21 times, acting as a wall ahead of its defence to stop the Brazilians from creating trouble in the crucial final third.
“Mateo, Luka and Marcelo are the best Croatia midfield in history. I don’t think it can be repeated. When you pass them the ball it is safer than having your money in the bank,” defender Josip Juranovic said. “I don’t think we need to fear anybody. We need to look at ourselves to play our best game. I would say the secret of our success is our togetherness, our unity. The fact that we act and play as a family.”
Messi, too, has changed and waits for his moments as his boys’ sprint, tackle and jostle to give their captain an extra sliver of space. At 35, he is finally having a World Cup of his dreams. His decisive interventions – the pass to Nahuel Molina against the Dutch or the goal through the legs of Australia’s Harry Souttar – have elevated a group of middling stars much like Diego Maradona did to Argentina of 1986.
“Leo is our leader, who is pushing and motivating us, and he gives us that special advantage. We know we have Messi on the pitch and that inspires us. And all of us try to work in the same direction and do it with Messi by our side,” said Nicolas Tagliafico, who will take the place of Marcos Acuna, suspended after receiving two bookings.
Croatia, a country of four million, has already achieved the remarkable and the emergence of RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol, carrying a price tag of GBP 70 million, has further strengthened its defence. Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made 11 saves against Brazil and stopped the Rodrygo’s penalty that took Croatia to consecutive semifinals in the quadrennial event. They will make Argentina’s life miserable, offering a staunch rear-guard that will be hard to break. Zlatko Dalic’s side reached the 2018 World Cup final without winning any of its knockout games in regulation time and will look to repeat the performance again.
Argentina, though, has looked more cohesive in attack since introducing Julian Alvarez upfront, and Enzo Fernandez, too, has made an impact and had the most forward movements (51) in the win over the Netherlands.
The availability of a fit-again Rodrigo De Paul and Angel Di Maria would offer more options to coach Lionel Scaloni, who is expected to opt for a back four after using a 5-3-2 system against the Dutch. “Both the players are fit and have trained. and we will need to see how many minutes they can play,” he said.
Dalic might be tempted to introduce Bruno Petkovic from the start in place of Andrej Kramaric after his dramatic equaliser against Brazil, but Croatia’s modus operandi would always be to take this game deep and rely on Livakovic’s heroics.
It will continue to play the role of the underdog and rely on the collective to take a step closer to redemption and stop Messi’s quest for the same.
When and where to watch
When will the Argentina vs Croatia semifinal match kick-off?
The Argentina vs Croatia semifinal match will kick-off at 12:30 am IST, December 14.
Where will the Argentina vs Croatia semifinal match kick-off?
The Argentina vs Croatia semifinal match will kick-off at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.
Where can you watch the Argentina vs Croatia semifinal match in India?
The Argentina vs Croatia semifinal match will be telecasted live on Sports18 and Sports18 HD. On Android and well as iOS, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be live streamed on JioCinema.
Where can you watch theArgentina vs Croatia semifinal match outside India?
Argentina – Live Stream: Telemundo
United States – TV: FOX, Telemundo; Live Stream: fuboTV, Fox Sports app, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo
Canada – TV: CTV, TSN; Live Stream: fuboTV, TSN app
United Kingdom – TV: BBC One; Live Stream: BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Website
Australia – TV: SBS; Live Stream: SBS On Demand
New Zealand – TV: Sky Sports; Live Stream: Sky Sport
Malaysia – TV: RTM, Astro; Live Stream: Astro Go
Singapore – TV: Mediacorp Channel 5; Live Stream: StarHub TV+, IPTV, Singtel TV
Hong Kong – TV: BeIN Sports, ITV; Live Stream: Now TV, ViuTV
Nigeria – SuperSport and Showmax Pro.
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