Argentina vs. Croatia is the first semi-final of the 2022 World Cup. It’s a match between a team that seems to be consistently overperforming and one that usually underwhelms.
Still, Argentina- Croatia is one of FootballCoin’s final World Cup fantasy games. Do you have a good enough score to qualify for prizes?
Free and private contests await. Here’s how the two teams will likely line up and which players fantasy football managers need to watch closely.
Players to watch
Croatia’s 20-year-old defender, is proving a true gem. At a tournament like the World Cup, there are many instances when attackers shine and make headlines. Gvardiol, however, is the key player in Croatia’s defense and for their chances of winning the semi-finals.
Croatia has conceded only three goals at the World Cup 2022. The Europeans only conceded three goals in the World Cup 2022 if you don’t count the penalty shootouts.
Surprisingly, Gvardiol shines in a team that isn’t defensive at all. Josko has won about 70% of his defensive duels. Now is the moment that Croatia needs Gvardiol’s inspiring performances the most.
Alexis Mac Allister
Some Premier League fans will be familiar with Mac Allister. Alexis Mac Allister plays a major role for Brighton & Hove Albion. In 14 Premier League games this season, he has scored 5 goals.
Mac Allister also scored against Poland in the Group stage. While rarely a goal-scoring threat, here is a great creative player. Mac Allister has been a standout for Argentina, filling the shoes of Giovani Lo Celso.
His creative ability has made him stand apart. Alexis is a skilled, deep-lying player who plays a key role in protecting Argentina’s backline. Mac Allister will play a key role in helping Enzo Fernandes to dominate the midfield against Croatia.
When the 2022 World Cup began, Livakovic wasn’t one of the most prominent names in Croatia’s squad.
It turns out, however, that Livakovic’s specialty are penalty shootouts. In the Round Of 16, Livakovic was the team’s hero against Japan. Dominik made three penalty saves.
Next, Croatia eventually defeated Brazil in the Quarter-Finals Livakovic saved 11 shots on goal against Brazil until Neymar Jr scored.
Finally, after the second shootout, Livakovic became the only goalkeeper, along with Danijel Subasic and Harald Schumacher, to have made four penalty saves.
If Croatia’s defense fails to hold Argentina back, they’ll still need to find a way to defeat Dinamo Zagreb’s keeper.
Who else? Messi is Argentina’s hero and captain. After a disappointing debut season at PSG, Lionel Messi returned to top form. Messi has now scored 23 goals and assisted 29 times in 53 appearances across all competitions for PSG.
Overall, Messi has scored 95 goals in just 170 games for Argentina. Already, he scored four goals at the World Cup in 2022.
Whichever way the Croatia vs. Argentina match will go, Messi is bound to be the South Americans’ greatest asset.
Suspensions and injuries
Zlatko Dalic’s team is full of confidence and ready to go.
Bruno Petkovic, Croatia’s super-sub, scored the equalizer against Brazil. He could return to his starting position over Andrej Kramaric. Mario Pasalic will likely keep his spot in attack.
Lionel Messi will be the star of the show for Argentina as they attempt to win this World Cup. Still, their chances will hinge on the Argentine defenders’ performances.
Bookings have caused the suspension of Marcos Acuna, a starter, and Gonzalo Montiel. Both are important defenders for the team. This has limited coach Lionel Scaloni’s options at the back.
Nicolas Tagliafico could come in as a replacement. He’ll likely be less aggressive than Acuna as the wingback.
What statistics stand out for Argentina or Croatia?
It turns out that the South Americans’ defense has been in good form for a while now. Argentina has allowed 22 shots on goal in the five matches at the World Cup. This comes down to 1.83 total expected goals.
By contrast, Croatia defended 21 shots against Brazil alone. The expected goals ratio stands at a whopping 2.53 for that Quarter-Final match.
Croatia reached the Round of 16, having won one game and drawn two. They finished in Group F’s second position, conceding just one goal.
Croatia’s midfield played defensively against Brazil. Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric provided a true masterclass performance.
More of the same can be expected against Argentina. This can pe particularly effective. as a way to stop the line-breaking passes Argentina loves to make.
And don’t forget about midfielder Mateo Kovacic! The Chelsea player is the only one with at least ten tackles and at least five chances in the 2022 World Cup.