Argentina clinched a dramatic win towards the Netherlands on penalties to e book a berth within the semifinal of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the place it’ll play Croatia.
Earlier than the match started, Argentina wasn’t one of many strongest groups on paper. Clearly, the presence of an in-form Lionel Messi was a lift for La Albiceleste, however when it comes to general squad stability, it was missing behind groups like Brazil, France, Spain and England. Additionally, the late exclusion of Giovani Lo Celso was a blow for Lionel Scaloni and his males.
Nonetheless, Argentina was thought-about one of many match favourites due to its 36-match unbeaten run. However, an enormous shock was ready for the two-time world champion in its World Cup opener.
When Argentina was paired with Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland in Group C, it was instantly chosen because the favorite to prime the group. It in the end did, however the highway was something however easy.
Lionel Messi and his workforce had been scheduled to open its World Cup marketing campaign towards Saudi Arabia on the Lusail Stadium. It began the match because the heavy favorite, and when Messi gave his workforce a lead from the spot, most thought it to be the beginning of an enormous rout.
However the tide turned within the second half when Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari scored in fast succession. Abruptly, Argentina appeared weak and determined for options, however couldn’t discover any. Saudi beat Argentina 2-1 in one of many largest World Cup upsets. Argentina completed the match with 62% of the ball and had 14 makes an attempt at aim in comparison with Saudi’s three.
Scaloni’s males went into its second match towards Mexico as a shaken workforce, with the tag of favourites having dissipated after the opening day shocker. The workforce appeared nervous within the first half, and Mexico appeared just like the likelier workforce to attain the primary aim. After the first-half completed goalless, Argentina began the second half with an air of confidence, that was missing within the first.
After which, within the sixty fourth minute, the Lusail stadium noticed the wizard wave his wand.
Receiving a move from Angel Di Maria, Messi created area for himself and launched a low shot at aim from roughly 25 yards out. The location was good, and by the point, Guillermo Ochoa noticed the ball and dived, the ball was already previous his attain and nestled within the bottom-right nook. Argentina took the bull by its horns after Messi’s opener, and within the 87th minute, Messi assisted Enzo Fernandes from a brief nook. The latter had a glance up and located the online with a well-taken finesse shot. Argentina gained the match 2-0.
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring his facet’s first aim throughout the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022, in Lusail Metropolis, Qatar.
| Picture Credit score: Dan Mullan/Getty Photos
Heading into its last group match towards Poland, Argentina wanted a win to make sure qualification. Whereas there have been doubts about Argentina’s potential to carry out underneath stress, it was a comparatively simple outing for the two-time world champion. Messi did miss a penalty, however it was a dominating efficiency by Argentina because it booked its Spherical of 16 seat with a 2-0 win courtesy of objectives by Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez.
Spherical of 16
Argentina confronted Australia in its Spherical of 16 match. The distinction in high quality was huge on paper, however Scaloni and his males couldn’t afford a shred of complacency, particularly after the shock loss to Saudi. Additionally, Australia deserved respect after profitable two of its three group video games, which included Denmark.
Argentina eked out a 2-1 win towards the Socceroos, however the match had its share of nervy moments.
After Messi and Alvarez gave a 2-0 result in Argentina, it appeared like a simple win for the Albiceleste. Nevertheless, Enzo Fernandez’s personal aim within the 77th minute modified the dynamic of the sport, and immediately Australia was always hounding the Argentine backline.
Julian Alvarez of Argentina celebrates after scoring the workforce’s second aim throughout the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Spherical of 16 match between Argentina and Australia at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on December 03, 2022, in Doha, Qatar.
| Picture Credit score: Alex Grimm/Getty Photos
It had two correct possibilities to attain late within the match. Aziz Behich’s shot was blocked by a superb slide deal with by Lisandro Martinez, and in the second, keeper Emiliano Martinez made a save within the seventh minute of second-half further time to save lots of Garang Kuol’s shot and preserved Argentina’s lead.
Argentina’s quarterfinal match towards the Netherlands is one for the historical past books. The match noticed 19 yellow playing cards, a superb help, two late objectives, a dramatic penalty shootout and an incensed Lionel Messi – the final one, being a uncommon sight in a soccer match.
Nahuel Molina scored the opening aim after Messi set him up with arguably the help of the match. Messi transformed from the spot to make it a 2-0 lead, and it appeared like a easy win for Argentina.
Nahuel Molina celebrates with Lionel Messi of Argentina after scoring the workforce’s first aim throughout the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarterfinal match between Netherlands and Argentina at Lusail Stadium on December 09, 2022, in Lusail Metropolis, Qatar.
| Picture Credit score: Matthias Hangst/Getty Photos
However Wout Weghorst scored two objectives to drive the match into extra-time, with the equaliser coming within the eleventh minute of second-half further time.
The match, which had seen its fair proportion of tussles and bookings, went into penalties. Emiliano Martinez turned hero within the shootout, saving two penalties and reserving Argentina’s place within the semifinals the place it could face Croatia.
Argentina vs Croatia – evaluation and overview
Argentina has come a good distance since its defeat towards Saudi Arabia in its opening match. However Croatia will undoubtedly be Argentina’s grittiest opponent on this World Cup marketing campaign.
Croatia has conceded simply three objectives until now within the World Cup in comparison with Argentina’s 5. Argentina has been closely reliant on Messi. Be it objectives or play-making, Messi has led his workforce from the entrance.
In contrast to his prime, one gained’t see Messi make these trademark dribbles, beating a number of defenders in a single go. A veteran of the sport, one sees Messi drop down and create for his teammates. He has made a complete of 70 line-breaking passes until now, which is a stat that works in favour of Argentina, contemplating the defensive compactness of the Croatians.
Up prime, Alvarez ought to hold his place, and Angel Di Maria is more likely to begin if he’s match-fit.
Marcos Acuna will miss the match as a result of suspension, and Nicolas Tagliafico is the seemingly substitute for the Albiceleste. Gonzalo Montiel is one other participant who will miss the Croatia match.
Croatia has already performed two 120 minutes matches, within the Spherical of 16 and the quarterfinal. It enjoys a 100% penalty-shootout document on this World Cup. A typical assumption could be that Croatia has the chance of burning out, however it has proved doubters flawed on a number of events and made a behavior of churning out leads to its favour.
Despite the fact that Croatia performs as a unit, Luka Modric will probably be a central determine within the workforce. He doesn’t have a aim or an help until now within the World Cup, however he thrives on the massive stage.
Josip Juranovic and masked hero Josko Gvardiol have been immense within the Croatian backline, particularly within the quarterfinal towards Brazil.
Ivan Perisic will probably be a continuing risk on the left flank, and he will probably be an enormous problem for Nahuel Molina to take care of.
Each Argentina and Croatia have good keepers of their ranks, however Livakovic takes the cake in the case of latest performances. In opposition to Brazil, Livakovic confronted a complete of 21 makes an attempt on aim, out of which he made 10 aim interventions. Out of the 11 saves he made, he retained the ball 5 instances. Livakovic had a shocking save proportion of 91.
Argentina, when it comes to high quality, does have the power to pierce Croatia’s defence, however this World Cup has taught us to not depend on paper and rankings. Scaloni’s males would wish to play as a workforce in the event that they need to attain the ultimate. It is crucial for Argentina to not flip the match into only a ‘Messi show.’ Messi needs to be there to enhance the workforce and never carry it. Messi will go into the match with 4 objectives. Messi drew degree with Gabriel Batistuta on the prime of Argentina’s all-time FIFA World Cup scorers listing with 10 objectives.
Additionally, a enjoyable reality to know earlier than the semifinal – Messi bagged his first worldwide aim towards Croatia on March 1, 2006, in a pleasant match performed at St. Jakob Park in Basil, Switzerland.