Kick-off: 1900, 13/12/2022
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium
Argentina and Croatia both prevailed on penalties in the World Cup quarter-finals and another close encounter is on the cards in the semis.
However, we’re hoping La Albiceleste can find a way to break down the 2018 runners-up and send their army of fans into raptures once more.
Punters can get 5/6 for the South American side to prevail in normal time and that is our first Argentina vs Croatia prediction.
Argentina have done it the hard way at Qatar 2022, recovering from an opening loss to Saudi Arabia to top their group by beating Mexico and Poland.
Australia were sent packing at the last-16 stage and they looked set for a straightforward success versus Netherlands when taking a 2-0 lead.
Lionel Messi produced a wonder pass to set up Nahuel Molina for his first international goal and then netted from the penalty spot himself on 73 minutes.
However, Holland resorted to route-one football and had enough big bodies in the box to mount a stunning comeback in the closing stages.
Fortunately for La Albiceleste, Aston Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez is a proven penalty saver and he helped them to triumph in a shoot-out.
“I thought we controlled the game really well,” Martinez told beIN Sports. “We went 2-0 up, basically we controlled the game.
“But the ref was just giving everything for them. He gave 10 minutes (stoppage time) for no reason. He was giving free-kicks outside the box for them.
“He just wanted them to score, that’s basically it. So, hopefully we don’t have that ref anymore. He’s useless.”
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz did struggle to keep a lid on an emotional and sometimes ill-tempered clash, but at least the best team got through in the end.
The general consensus is that Argentina are not an exceptional side, but they do have Messi still going strong at the age of 35 and he is always capable of lifting them with moments of magic.
Looking at the 9/4 for La Albiceleste to oblige by any one-goal margin.
Croatia have looked a level below their efforts in Russia four years ago and have actually only beaten Canada in normal time in five matches so far.
They came from behind for a 4-1 win over the Canucks in between goalless stalemates with Morocco and Belgium during the group stage, riding their luck late on against the Red Devils.
The Navigators were run ragged by Japan early on before battling back for a 1-1 draw and then prevailing on penalties.
Zlatko Dalic’s side looked down and out when Neymar finally cut through them in extra-time, but Bruno Petkovic equalised and Dominik Livakovic again did the business in a second straight shoot-out.
“We’re experienced and we’re raised as fighters,” said the keeper. “We’re sparing no efforts and that’s the recipe for success.”
Dalic added: “Brazil were very smart and had control in the match but we demonstrated what it is like not to surrender and what the Croatia team is.
“We have very strong characters and we do not give up. As the game unfolded, our chances grew. Only teams with great strength and character can come back in such a game.”
Croatia obviously deserve great credit for their resilience in games where things are not going well and this campaign is following a similar pattern to four years ago.
In Russia, they beat Denmark and the hosts on penalties before coming from behind to edge out England in extra-time.
However, we reckon Neymar provided the blueprint for how to break them down with a neat one-two through the middle and Messi is even more adept at pulling off moves like that.
As for a goalscorer bet, Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez has not had the best of tournaments overall but he looked very sharp when coming off the bench against Holland and fired in an excellent penalty.
Let’s add 9/2 for the Inter Milan hitman to grab the last goal in this game to our Argentina vs Croatia betting tips.
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