2022 World Cup Preview, Predictions and Lineups: Argentina vs Croatia

The 2022 World Cup semi-finals get underway on Tuesday as Argentina and Croatia face each other at the Lusail Iconic Stadium. A place in the showpiece event is on the line, with beaten finalists from 2018 looking to take another massive South American scalp in Qatar.

Goals from Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi looked seemingly enough to help Argentina oust the Netherlands in a tense quarter-final tie. However, with less than ten minutes left on the clock, second-half substitute Wout Weghorst notched up a quick-fire double to ensure a 2-2 draw and a nerve-shredding penalty shootout.

Luckily for Argentina, Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez came up huge to thwart the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis in penalties. After squeezing past Australia in the round of 16, Lionel Scaloni’s men will face a third nation from the UEFA confederation in the knockouts. But Croatia could prove a much sterner test.

Zlatko Dalic’s men pulled off arguably the biggest upset at the Qatar tournament in the quarter-finals, sending pre-tournament favorites Brazil packing. After a 1-1 draw, courtesy of Bruno Petkovic’s last-gasp equalizer, the Blazers came out on top of a nail-biting shootout and could become the first European nation in the 21st century to reach back-to-back World Cup finals. 

Croatia previously dumped Japan out of the competition on penalties, showing they are masters of the knockouts. If they upset the odds in Lusail, they’ll become only the second nation in World Cup history to eliminate both Brazil and Argentina in a single knockout campaign. The only team to achieve that feat was Germany in 2014.

Match Preview


The Argentines have bounced back from a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their curtain-raising 2022 World Cup fixture to win three consecutive games before the abovementioned draw with the Netherlands. Having reached the competition’s semi-finals for the fifth time, Scaloni’s men will be confident of making it to the grand final.

Indeed, Argentina boast a 100% win ratio across their five previous semi-final appearances at a World Cup, most recently dispatching the Netherlands in 2014. However, there’s a catch. Barring a 2-0 demolition of Poland in the group stages, they’ve failed to win six of their last seven World Cup encounters against European nations (D3, L3). 

With Messi gunning for coveted World Cup glory that would go a long way in his resume in establishing him as the best player of all time, Argentina will be out to defy their underwhelming form against sides from the UEFA region. La Pulga has tallied ten goals in the tournament and is one short of becoming his country’s outright top goalscorer at international football’s biggest stage. 


Despite going the distance in Qatar, the Croats have pulled off just one victory within regulation time, beating Canada 4-1 in the group stages. A pair of goalless draws with Belgium and Morocco, coupled with the abovementioned stalemates against Brazil and Japan, have seen Croatia score only once within 90 minutes. 

On top of that, the Blazers have failed to open the scoring in their last nine World Cup matches, showing they don’t need to fly out of the traps to make a standout achievement. Dalic’s men will likely look to take this tie to penalties, having won all four shootouts at the World Cup finals.

All eyes will be on Real Madrid midfield dynamo Luka Modric. The highly-rated veteran has amassed more World Cup appearances than any other Croatian player (17). After commencing all five matches in Qatar, he could become the fourth 37-year-old to start six games at a World Cup.

Team News

Argentina and the Netherlands played out one of the most nervous quarter-finals in recent World Cup history, which saw a couple of Scaloni’s players pick up bookings that will sideline them for this fixture. In addition to first-choice left-back Marcos Acuna, back-up right-back Gonzalo Montiel also received a yellow card and will have to sit out this clash.

With Nicolas Tagliafico set to reclaim his place in the starting lineup, Scaloni may want to compensate for Lyon man’s lack of speed by bolstering the opposite flank. That could pave the wave for Angel Di Maria’s return to the starting XI after tumbling down the pecking order in the knockout stages.

As for Croatia, headline midfielders Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic managed to walk the disciplinary tightrope against Brazil. Both players avoided picking up yellow cards that would’ve triggered a one-game ban and will forge a formidable midfield lineup in Lusail. 

Petkovic, whose late heroics deep into extra time helped Croatia overcome Brazil, could make a rare start at the expense of Mario Pasalic. His potential inclusion would shift Andrej Kramaric out to the right wing, while Ivan Perisic should retain his place on the left.

Argentina vs Croatia Head-to-Head

Croatia faced Argentina in their maiden World Cup participation as an independent country back in 1998 but found themselves on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline. However, they claimed their vengeance in Russia four years ago by registering a thumping 3-0 win in the group stages. 

Other than those two meetings in the finals, Croatia and Argentina have locked horns twice in international friendlies, with both countries gathering one win apiece. With that in mind, this fixture could still go either way despite the odds.

Argentina vs Croatia Potential Lineups

Argentina (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico; Rodrigo De Paul, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister; Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Julian Alvarez.

Croatia (4-3-3): Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Andrej Kramaric, Bruno Petkovic, Ivan Perisic.

Final Prediction

Argentina 2-1 Croatia 

Apart from the unexpected defeat to Saudi Arabia, Argentina have been unbeaten in 40 of their last 41 internationals (W30, D10). With Scaloni’s side in the midst of a purple patch, it’s hard to see Croatia going toe-to-toe with Messi & Co. 

The Blazers know in-depth about playing competitive matches at major tournaments, but playing two exhausting extra times could take its toll on Tuesday. Indeed, Indeed, fatigue could be a fatal factor for Dalic’s aging squad, especially if they fall behind again.