Argentina vs Croatia Prediction

13th December 2022
22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT
Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy)

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World Cup Head-to-Head Record


Played:2  Argentina Wins:1  Croatia Wins:1

Argentina vs Croatia Prediction Match Overview


After their blip against the Saudis, Argentina finished top of Group C. They then beat Australia in the round of 16 before their quarter-final against the Netherlands. In a bad-tempered affair, Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz issued a staggering 18 yellow cards, having lost control of the match. Argentina had scored in the first half through a Nauhel Molina finish from a beautiful Lionel Messi assist. They made it 2-0 in the second half with a Messi penalty. However, the Netherlands brought on their tall players and launched balls into the box. This paid dividends as Wout Weghorst scored with a header. With the Argentines nervous, Weghorst again scored from a gorgeous free-kick routine in the 11th minute of stoppage time to equalise the game. Argentina had the best of the play in extra time. Eventually, they won 4-3 on penalties, with goalkeeper Emi Martinez saving the first two Dutch kicks.

Croatia finished second in Group F, behind fellow semi-finalists Morocco. Following this, they got past Japan on penalties in the round of 16. They were underdogs in facing Brazil in the quarter-finals. After a drab 90-minute period where Brazil had chances but could not convert, the game went to extra time. In the final minute of the first half, Neymar scored a gorgeous goal, including two one-twos on his run into the box. However, the Croatians never know when they are beaten and equalised with a beautiful counter-attack in the 117th minute through Bruno Petkovic. In the shootout, the Croatia penalties were expertly taken, whereas Rodrygo and Marquinhos missed for Brazil through poor efforts. The Croatians are ecstatic at making the semi-finals again.

Argentina and Croatia now meet in the first semi-final in Lusail at 10 pm local time on Tuesday. Argentina will remember their clash in the last World Cup’s group stage, where Croatia decimated them 3-0. However, this is a more stable Argentinean team defensively. Croatia, though, are very resolute and robust mentally. Indeed, in their last six knockout games, Croatia have trailed but come back to progress in five of them. Therefore, they won’t panic if Argentina score first. Argentina vs Croatia should be an intriguing game, both tactically and technically.

Injuries and Suspensions

Might not play:

Will not play: Montiel, Acuna (Argentina)

Possible Lineups

Croatia vs Brazil Prediction lineup
Brazil vs Croatia Prediction Lineup

Argentina vs Croatia Prediction Analysis

The Contest for the Midfield and Attacking the Backlines

After starting the quarter-final with a back three to match the Dutch, we expect Argentina to revert to a four here to match their opponents again. Four at the back is coach Lionel Scaloni’s preferred formation. Hence, we see the impressive Lisandro Martinez dropping out since Angel Di Maria may be fit enough to start in a front three. Croatia’s midfield is one of the best in the tournament, with Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, and talisman Luka Modric linking up well to try to control the game. Indeed, the Croatians had slightly more possession against Brazil and completed more passes. Argentina, too, like to try to keep the ball.

Therefore, we anticipate a game where neither team will have a stranglehold on possession and one which fluctuates and where both teams have spells where they are on top. Modric, Brozovic, and Kovacic are undoubtedly crucial for Croatia. The pressing and all-action style of Rodrigo De Paul and Alexis Mac Allister will likely swamp them. Therefore, the Croatian midfielders’ technique and ability to play out of tight spaces will be challenged by Argentina. Of course, the Croatian players can prove more than up to the task, as Modric has controlled most of the games he has played in this World Cup.

The Argentineans will look to win the ball high to get it to Messi and Di Maria and allow them to attack an exposed Croatian backline. The Croatians must protect Dejan Lovren and Josko Gvardiol in defence. However, Gvardiol has proved throughout the tournament what a solid and dependable centre-back he is for one so young. The Croatian midfielders will look to take the ball from their defenders and play short passes in midfield, knitting play, slowing things down, and trying to control the possession. This strategy will be risky against an all-action team like Argentina. However, if the Croatians can play through Argentina’s press, there will be plenty of chances to get the ball to the flanks and find joy in the wide areas.

Argentina, for their part, are also capable of controlling the ball. We expect to see classy youngster Enzo Fernandez go toe to toe with Modric in a tussle of experience versus youth. In a sense, it is the old guard giving way to the new. Fernandez and the other Argentina midfielders have a tough job dealing with the Croatian ones. Hence, this midfield contest will likely be Argentina’s hardest battle to date. Overall, we expect Argentina to create more chances. However, both midfields will be diligent in protecting their defences and trying to orchestrate in Argentina vs Croatia.

The Wide Areas

The flanks will be as critical in the game as the contest for the midfield will be. As each team has spells of good possession, it will give each a platform to find their wide players and attack down the sides. With the flying Marcos Acuna out, Argentina will bring Nicolas Tagliafico in at left-back. He is also good at attacking though he is not as all-action as Acuna. Nahuel Molina will be buoyed by his goal against the Netherlands and will look to get forward down the right. They will try to link up with Messi and Di Maria to cross balls in the box or come inside to work their way into the Croatian penalty area.

The Croatian full-backs Borna Sosa and Josip Juranovic must be wary of this threat. They will also need help from their midfielders covering and their respective centre-backs. Argentina are a wily and tricky team who can find little openings, especially with the mercurial Messi roaming, so the Croatians must be disciplined. Sosa and Juranovic like to get forward themselves. However, they might be pinned back sometimes in this match, as Argentina have more firepower than they do. Therefore, the Croatians will be wary of the South Americans’ threat. Messi and company will often look to switch the ball from side to side to disrupt the Croatian shape. In doing so, they might eventually find gaps and space which they can exploit to create chances. Messi passes out wide often, then looks to get into the box to receive the return ball. Croatia must be careful of this situation.

When Croatia can get forward, Sosa and Juranovic must support Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric in the final third. Again, it is a balancing act – Sosa and Juranovic must choose their moments wisely. They can offer overlaps for Perisic and Kramaric, and the two Croatian wingers are very physical and powerful. They will look to put in crosses for Bruno Petkovic. Argentina showed against the Dutch that they were nervous up against an aerial bombardment, which will be an area the Eastern Europeans will target in Argentina vs Croatia.

Indeed, we expect crosses to come in from Sosa, Juranovic, Perisic, Kramaric, and Modric. It will be imperative that the Argentineans deal with this. If the Argentines take the lead, we can see them bringing on Lisandro Martinez late in the game and switching to three at the back. This way, they can defend their lead and have more men in the box to protect their goal against the crosses. Croatia are also quite good at working their way into the box on the ground. Low crosses to the back post for an incoming Kramaric (who is more of a winger-striker hybrid) could also be profitable.

Argentina’s Temperament and Discipline and Croatia’s Penchant for Coming Back

Two mental aspects of this game could be crucial. The first is Argentina’s discipline. The South Americans have always been fiery and hot-headed, like many Latin American nations. Despite their technique and talent, they constantly play with their heart on their sleeves and are not afraid of tough-tackling or mixing it with their opponents. Therefore, it is vital that they try to remain more composed than they did against the Netherlands. Aggression can be good, but it must be controlled. Too often throughout the game against the Dutch (and after it), the Argentines let their emotions get the better of them. Croatia can be hot-headed too, but in Modric, they have a calm leader who does not panic. Argentina might be nervous.

The reason for potential Argentinean anxiousness is the second factor – Croatia have shown that they are never beaten and can come back in games and still advance. Indeed, Argentina may actually be at their most vulnerable against Croatia if they are a goal ahead. Argentina will be aware of Croatia’s mental fortitude and must try to see out Argentina vs Croatia, which they were unable to do against the Netherlands. Argentina may find a two-goal cushion. However, it will be intriguing to see the Argentine approach if they go a goal ahead and it remains this tight late in the match. It will be impressive if Argentina can hold on and resist a Croatian comeback. It may prove that Argentina possess the mental fortitude to go on to win the final and be crowned world champions. Indeed, the confidence they would carry forward from beating a dogged Croatian team would be substantial.

Argentina Key Players

Rodrigo De Paul

De Paul has been playing through a slight injury problem, but we expect him to be fit for the semi-final. He is a warrior. Indeed, after a slow start, he has grown into this tournament as it has gone on. His tenacity, energy and high work rate in midfield allow Messi to coast more and only come alive in possession. De Paul is a strong tackler, but he is not just a yard dog – he can pass well and link up with the forwards and isn’t bad at playing through the lines. Still, his energetic all-action style is his main strength, and we expect him not to give the talented Croatian midfield a moment of peace. He, Fernandez, and Mac Allister must press willingly and try to create when they win the ball.

Lionel Messi

Messi has rolled back the years in this World Cup. For our money, he has been the player of the tournament alongside Kylian Mbappe and Modric. His ability to create, orchestrate and score is critical to this Argentina team. Many have said Messi is a one-player team, but that reveals more about his all-time-great creative abilities than any shortcomings of his teammates. Messi must create again in Argentina vs Croatia. He must link up with Julian Alvarez, Mac Allister, Di Maria, and the full-backs to find little gaps, spaces, and weaknesses in the Croatian shape. He has the ability to do so but will be heavily patrolled by the likes of Brozovic and Modric. De Paul may sometimes act as a ‘bodyguard’ to enable Messi to do his thing creatively and in front of the goal.

Croatia Key Players

Dominik Livakovic

Livakovic has played very well throughout this tournament and was outstanding against Brazil. He made a string of saves and was dominant in the air too. We said that Brazil would create chances in that game and that it would be difficult for Livakovic to keep them out. However, he defied our words and put in one of the best goalkeeping displays of the tournament so far. He will likely have to do similarly against Argentina as he will face shots from players such as Messi, Alvarez, and Di Maria. He must produce the same shot-stopping exploits he did against Brazil. His performance will likely be decisive as Messi especially will have some dangerous shots on goal. He could also prove crucial in a potential penalty shootout.

Luka Modric

What more can be said about Modric? At 37 years old, he is still one of the best midfielders in the world and diligently patrolling the central areas for both club and country. His calmness and composure will be vital against Argentina. He, Brozovic, and Kovacic will look to get their foot on the ball and maintain possession to relieve the Argentinean pressure. As well as being capable defensively and providing support to his rearguard, Modric will be critical in getting forward. He must play crosses or through balls which can exploit Argentina defensively. Make no mistake, if Croatia are to make the final, Modric will be at the heart of things as he always is.

Beat the Bookmaker Argentina vs Croatia Prediction


The pattern of play in Argentina vs Croatia is difficult to predict. With the game being between two talented teams, strength off the bench might be crucial, given that five substitutes are permitted. We expect both teams to have spells of dominance and for the game to ebb and flow. In a match as evenly poised as this, it could come down to who takes their chances and who doesn’t. The bookmakers favour Argentina, but we don’t think they are clear favourites. Croatia have repeatedly proved that they have what it takes to get the job done and get through. Croatia will be anxious in that they struggle to score. However, they are generally a composed team who know that their defence and midfield are strong and will always give them the platform to create a chance or two.

Argentina will look to create opportunities, get a two-goal buffer, and get the game won early. Argentina let Australia and the Netherlands make things difficult after comfortable 2-0 leads late on. Given Croatia’s penchant for comebacks, this mental aspect could come into play. Still, we think Argentina will win by the odd goal, though the match could go to extra time as Croatia’s games often do. We see Argentina taking the lead but conceding, then winning in overtime. Messi is playing very well in this tournament. We think he will eventually produce a magic moment to finish off Croatia. Given Croatia’s ability from the spot, Argentina will not want this to go to penalties.


Argentina 2-1 Croatia AET; Both Teams to Score (90 Minutes)

Beat the Bookmaker Argentina vs Croatia Prediction – Both Teams to Score (90 Minutes) Odds:




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