At 3:00 am on December 14, Argentina won 3-0 over Croatia in the first match of the 2022 World Cup semifinals, with Julian Alvarez making a penalty and Messi hitting it.
Then Julian Alvarez made a personal run to extend the score. In the second half, Messi assisted Julian Alvarez to break through the goal. Argentina reached the World Cup final for the 6th time, and their final opponent will be the winner between France and Morocco.
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Argentina World Cup
Argentina killed the World Cup final again after 8 years after the 2014 World Cup, and the 35-year-old Messi is still the best in the game, with 1 pass and 1 shot to help the team beat Croatia 3-0.
With the elimination of Croatia, Argentina reached the World Cup finals for the sixth time in its history, second only to Germany (8). Argentina is undefeated in its five World Cup semifinal appearances. 1978 World Cup on home soil, they advanced to the final as the first team in the second round.
Argentina started the game based on pressing forward, which is a good idea, Croatia is always capable of taking the game into extra time, but this is not a team that likes to open up and play on the counter-attack.
The fact is that the Croatian team is very delicate and likes to pass the ball short from the back, with Lovren, Gwadiore, and Brozovic as the roots of the ball. The idea of Argentina trying to root out the Croatian team was a reasonable attempt and also had broken the ball at the feet of the Croatian team in the first minute.
The Difficulties Encountered by the Argentine Team
But soon, Argentina encountered a problem. When they attacked, Croatia changed to a 541 formation with 5 fullbacks, and Pasalic retired to the right back to increase the width of the defense, and Argentina could not find a way to break this defense.
However, for Argentina, the more difficult part was yet to come. In the 10th minute, Croatia pushed its formation forward and opened a period of possession for more than two minutes, and the statistics that appeared in the 16th minute of the game showed that Croatia had 57% possession of the ball, while Argentina only had 31%. Argentina is obviously less skilled in the midfield passing competition, and the perfect possession of the Croatian team compared to the Argentine team's passing is full of errors, Croatia clearly dominates the field.
What made Argentina feel more ominous was that Messi pulled back to get the ball in the 19th minute and was pinned by the Croatian trio, after which Messi kept his hand over his left leg, suspected to be injured. However, Messi still came up with his own looker in the 22nd minute, playing a wave of threats in the middle of the box.
Croatia World Cup
With Modric crotching Mike Allister in the middle of the field in the 31st minute, Croatia seemed to be at the top of their game, with the full house of Argentine fans silent, while neutral fans and not many Croatian fans cheered for Modric's performance. At this point, Argentina's disadvantage was already quite obvious, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Croatia scored to take the game.
At this point, Argentina played their opportunism and gave another way of interpreting the soccer game, not that the team that plays the best football wins the game, but the team that can master the timing the most. Just when everyone was still reveling in Modric's crotch crossing and calling for Croatia's precise passing, in the 32nd minute, Enzo Fernandez made a long pass from the middle, Julian Alvarez was already in a counter-attacking position, he picked a single shot although it didn't go in, goalkeeper Livakovic tapped him down, the referee made up a penalty and showed the goalkeeper a yellow card, Messi took a penalty kick and made it 1-0.
The Croatian team that attacked was really not so solid defensively, and after five minutes, the Argentine team once again showed their opportunistic characteristics. They launched a counterattack from in front of their own box, Messi transitioned in the middle, Alvarez took the ball and went straight to the goal, although there were players on both sides, the City striker just didn't pass the ball, and there were 2 Croatian defenders back in front of him, which was obviously a bad decision, however, who would have thought that after 2 breaks by Juranovic and Sosa, the ball bounced to Alvarez, allowing the City striker to continue to advance eventually That's how the wrong goal was scored full of luck, 2-0.
Messi's Performance Once Again Brought the Game to a New Climax
Croatia played better in the first half, but ended the half 0-2, Croatia's manager Dalic changed two people in a row at halftime, Olšić, and Vlašić for Pasalic and Sosa. But the strange situation remained the same, Croatia was still the party that took the initiative on the field, while Argentina was the party that could create chances. After only five minutes, the impatient Dalic replaced Brozovic, one of the midfield triangles, with Petkovic, who scored the goal that forced Brazil to draw. Argentina seemed to smell something and started to try to control the ball, after sending additional wingers and wingers to Croatia this time in the midfield has begun to gradually weaken.
To avoid a recurrence of the last-minute equalizer against the Netherlands' 2-goal lead, Scaloni's first change was to replace Paredes with Lisandro Martinez, reducing one midfielder and adding a center back, and Argentina also changed to a 5-back formation. At this point, Argentina's intention to stick to the defensive counter-attack was already very obvious. At the same time, Argentina was also slowing down the pace of the game and letting the game cool down gradually.
However, Messi's performance once again brought the game to a new climax. Messi also covered his left thigh with his hand several times in the second half of the game, as if he had obvious discomfort in his left thigh, but what people could not understand was that in the 69th minute, Messi, who is already 35 years old, seemed to return to 25 years old, as he started to break through Gwadiore, who is only 20 years old and the best center back of the new generation of the Croatian team, from 40 meters away from the goal, and finally managed to break through the opponent's cross by using a turn and fake movement at the edge of the box. Alvarez scored twice with a shot from the middle to make it 3-0.