Football | Croatia thwarts Argentina's dream of final berth (part 2)2022-12-13 13:46
Led by superstar Lionel Messi , Argentina are among the favorites to win the World Cup but they face a huge hurdle in today's semi-final against 2018 runners-up Croatia, who proved a testament to other title contenders Or Brazil's strength.
The Argentines are looking for their first World Cup win since Diego Maradona's side in 1986 and their work is done .
Starting defenders Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel were suspended for yellow cards, limiting coach Lionel Scaloni 's options at the back.
Nicolás Tagliafico could replace the former but it would be a less attacking formation with full-back Acuna adding more sparkle.
A question mark also looms over veteran Di Maria and his fitness, with the 34- year-old largely used as a substitute in games despite returning from injury.
Messi, 35 , is likely to be playing in his final World Cup, desperate to claim a major title missing from his extensive collection, but he also carries the weight of his country on his shoulders.
A fight for the title of greatest Argentine player of all time would not be complete without the world title, which the late Maradona nearly single-handedly won 36 years ago.
The Netherlands barely made it to the semi-finals after they came from 2-0 down to score twice late in the game and force extra-time and a penalty shootout in an ill-tempered game.
A repeat of the shootout, this time against a strong-willed Croatia , must have been a dire prospect for Scaloni's men, although goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez stepped up against the Netherlands out, saving two penalties.
Croatia reached the 2018 final in two penalties and extra-time before losing to France, and also went to penalties in both of their knockout-stage games in Qatar , with a perfect 4-0 record. Based on that statistic, another game against Argentina could very well take them to the final.
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