Lionel Messi is expected to start when Argentina take on Croatia in the semifinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday (December 13). The two-time world champions defeated the Netherlands in the quarterfinals to book their place in the last four.
Messi scored one goal and assisted another against the Netherlands in a fiery encounter which ended 2-2 after extra time. Argentina then secured a 4-3 win in the penalty shootout with Messi scoring his side’s first spot kick.
The 35-year-old has been one of Argentina’s best performers at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) forward has contributed four goals and two assists in five matches at the World Cup so far.
Based on his current form, it is certain that Lionel Messi will start and lead the attack against Croatia. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will probably be partnered with Julian Alvarez in attack from the start. The likes of Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez could become involved as substitutes over the course of the game.
Lionel Messi training with Argentina.
Croatia, on the other hand, also secured their passage to the semifinals on the back of a penalty shootout victory. They beat Brazil in the quarterfinals and will be looking to reach their second consecutive FIFA World Cup final.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina lost to Croatia at the last FIFA World Cup
Lionel Messi is currently one game away from reaching his second FIFA World Cup final. He last reached the final back in 2014 when Argentina lost to Germany after Mario Gotze netted the game’s only goal in extra time.
However, they face a Croatian side which defeated them in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Croatia and Argentina were drawn alongside one another in Group D of the tournament last time around. Croatia secured an emphatic 3-0 victory over the current Copa America holders with Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic getting on the scoresheet.
1994: Croatia 0-0 Argentina (Friendly)
1998: Argentina 1-0 Croatia (World Cup)
2006: Croatia 3-2 Argentina (Friendly)
2014: Argentina 2-1 Croatia (Friendly)
2018: Argentina 0-3 Croatia (World Cup)
They meet again ⚔️
Their defeat to Croatia meant that Argentina finished runners-up in their group and faced France in the Round of 16. Lionel Messi’s side exited the tournament at that stage following a 4-3 defeat.
The winner of this semifinal will face either France or Morocco in the 2022 FIFA World Cup final on Sunday, 18 December. This could be Messi’s last shot at lifting the FIFA World Cup trophy, the most notable honor missing from his cabinet.
To read more news, click here.