Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal between Argentina and Croatia in Qatar will provide Lionel Messi the opportunity to move one step closer to realizing his dream of winning the championship.
But they face a Croatian team that made it to the final in Russia four years ago and has a strong track record in knockout games at the world championships.
HERE ARE 10 FACTS AHEAD OF THE GAME.
Argentina has never lost in the semifinals of a World Cup. In their previous four appearances at this round of the competition, they have won all four matches, defeating the USA in 1930 (6-1), Belgium in 1986 (2-0), Italy in 1990 (1-1, 4-3 on penalties), and the Netherlands in 2014. (0-0, 4-2 on penalties).
At this point, Croatia’s record is 50%. In 1998, they fell short against the eventual champions France (1-2), but four years ago in Russia, they defeated England (2-1).
Croatia has never lost in a World Cup penalty shootout, having won all four of their prior matches that required penalties. They defeated Brazil (2022), Russia (2018), Denmark (2018), and Japan (2018). (2022). In fact, they have triumphed in all five of their games that have required extra time, including the semifinal victory over England by a score of 2-1.
Additionally, Argentina has a nearly unblemished record in penalty shootouts. The only blemish on their record is a 2006 quarterfinal loss to the host nation Germany. They have won five of their six games that required penalty kicks. They defeated the Netherlands (1998), England (1998), Italy (1990), and Yugoslavia (1990). (2014 & 2022).
The previous five meetings between the two teams were in all competitions, with two wins apiece and a tie. It also has an even record at the World Cup, with Croatia winning their pool in 2018 by a score of 3-0 and Argentina won 1-0 in the group stages in 1998. In the contest, Luka Modric hit the mark.
In their last 41 international matches (W28 D12), Argentina has only suffered one loss, a shocking loss to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener in Qatar. As the tournament has progressed, they have undoubtedly gotten better.
If he plays against Croatia, Lionel Messi would tie German great Lothar Matthaus for the most World Cup appearances by any player with 25. If Messi participates in the championship game or the play-off for third place, he will then have exclusive possession of the record.
We might need to stay for an additional 30 minutes. Five of Croatia’s last six knockout-stage games have gone into extra time, as have eight of Argentina’s last 14 World Cup knockout-stage meetings against European opponents.
Croatia has won eight out of ten of their World Cup knockout stage matches, and they have only lost one of their last 12 World Cup games (W5 D6).
Italian Daniele Orsato will officiate the match. He oversaw Ecuador’s 2-0 victory over Qatar in the tournament opener as well as Argentina’s 2-0 triumph over Mexico in the group stage.
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