Lionel Messi and Argentina meet Luka Modric and Croatia in a World Cup semifinal on Tuesday. In Wednesday’s second semi-final, France faces Morocco, the first African side to reach the World Cup final four. Messi, 35, will try to lead Argentina into the last for the second time in eight years against the 2018 finalists.
Messi wants to win the World Cup and emulate Diego Maradona, another Argentine superstar. The PSG forward was essential in Friday’s quarterfinal triumph over the Netherlands, which featured a record 18 yellow cards and a scuffle as the referee tried to retake control. Argentina players taunted their sad Dutch opponents before celebrating a penalty shootout triumph. Even generally mild-mannered Messi shouted at Dutch players after the game.
Argentina vs Croatia in the first semifinal
Lionel Scaloni defended his players’ actions at a pregame news conference on Monday. Both teams played well in yesterday’s game. Argentina’s 44-year-old coach remarked, “That’s football.”
Croatia hasn’t won a knockout game in regular time at a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup. The country of 3.9 million astonished the football world by reaching the final four years ago, but France beat them 4-2. Croatia, led by 37-year-old Real Madrid playmaker Modric, are on the verge of a second straight final.
Zlatko Dalic said he wanted Tuesday’s game to be the “best” in Croatia’s history. “Being in the top four at back-to-back World Cups is a huge accomplishment for Croatia,” added Dalic. He continued, “We want more.”
“I’m optimistic and trust my players. They’ve demonstrated character and quality and deserve to be in the final. Dalic claimed Qatar’s lack of energy from marathon games wouldn’t be an issue.
“We’re still energetic and enthusiastic,” he remarked. “We’ll play hard, exactly like in previous games. “We’ll give our everything against Argentina. No injuries. They’re not exhausted. – Inspiring France is favoured to overcome Morocco on Wednesday and defend its crown. The African team’s run to the semifinals has captivated a continent, and they have legions of admirers in Qatar. France was Morocco’s colonial power, and hundreds of thousands of Moroccans lived and worked there.
Royal Air Maroc is adding 30 roundtrip flights to transport ecstatic fans to the Gulf state. Raphael Varane says France won’t be complacent. “Morocco isn’t here by accident,” he continued. “We veteran gamers must prepare everyone for another war.” Brazil’s Ronaldo believes France will win back-to-back World Cups. Ronaldo scored both goals as Portugal won the 2002 World Cup final against Germany and told AFP, “France are backing up their standing as favorites.”