The last four have been reached in the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022.
With 37-year-old Luka Modri in charge of the midfield, a tough, never-say-die Croatian team in one half of the bracket has defied expectations and advanced further into the tournament than anybody had predicted. But in Tuesday’s semifinal game, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi as the Argentine great seeks to win the one prize that has eluded him forever.
The defending world champions on the other side held off a strong challenge from England to secure their spot in the semifinals. As the Atlas Lions continue their Cinderella run, France will take on Morocco, Africa’s first semifinalist.
As the tournament drew to a close, our group of B/R World Football experts gathered once more to predict the outcomes of the semifinal matches.
Argentina, says Nick Akerman
After tough quarterfinal penalty triumphs, both of these sides had to battle to reach this stage. Lionel Messi should make a difference once again, as I predicted he would in the previous round. His assist against the Dutch was outrageous, and he was unstoppable in the penalty shootout.
If Luka Modri controls play as he did against Brazil, Croatia is superb and will make Argentina battle to the bitter end. But Messi’s performance in the championship game seems preordained. Always has been.
Argentina, says Meg Swanick
The path taken by Argentina to the semifinal has been a choppy one. The prolific passing flows are as beautiful as Leo Messi’s legacy. They attack quickly and fiercely. Although the defense might be patchy, Messi and the company make up for it upfront.
Croatia is a smart team that knows how to get to the championship. It might demonstrate that for a second straight World Cup. Argentina, though, will survive. Messi’s legacy requires it; his team will find a solution.
Croatia, Alex Windley
This World Cup has come as a complete surprise.
I’ll choose Croatia against all football senses in the spirit of that turmoil. Luka Modri will give it everything to lead his nation back there, just like it did during its run to the final in 2018.
It will be difficult to defeat Argentina and a motivated Lionel Messi, but Croatia has proven it can hold its own against any foe. Both teams have a chance to win in a hard-fought game, but Croatia will win again on penalties.
Argentina, Shane Evans
When it comes to playing the underdog at this World Cup, Croatia has excelled. Four million people strong, this country has defied the odds, most recently defeating South American favorite Brazil in the quarterfinals.
Can it accomplish that feat again when facing Argentina and Lionel Messi? Never depend on it. Argentina’s team exudes an aura that begins and finishes with Messi. Leo keeps trying to win his first World Cup while Modri retires.
Although I sincerely hope Morocco’s tale does not come to an end, France is simply too nice for them. The 2-1 victory over England put Didier Deschamps’ team to the test; had Harry Kane’s penalty been successful, extra time might have been required.
The Moroccan defense is beginning to crumble due to injuries, but Les Bleus simply have too much energy and inventiveness to fall short. In the match against the Three Lions, Antoine Griezmann was crucial, and he will drag Morocco all over the place. I predict a final between Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi.
David and Goliath will square off in this intriguing semifinal battle. To this far, Morocco has played smart matches that have relied heavily on compact defending and proven deadly on counterattacks.
Can it be applied to the French? I disagree. France has a strong defense to give and the technical ability to get through a barrier. Mbappé still has goals left to score, and he will inspire his team to face Argentina in the championship game.
France has a goal in mind. It not only defeated a tenacious England team but did so without Kylian Mbappé scoring any goals.
Les Bleus didn’t play very well, but they succeeded. They appear committed to winning again. France appears to be one victory away from making a run back to the championship game as they take on a tenacious Morocco team in the semifinal. Although it won’t be simple, it has the ability and will to succeed.
Morocco deserves a completely new moniker for what it has accomplished in Qatar thus far, if Croatia has been the underdog. The Atlas Lions, the first country from Africa to go to the World Cup semifinals, will play France, the defending champion, in the tournament’s final four.
Can they repeat it? Can Kylian Mbappe be stopped? Even if it would make for a fantastic story, Les Bleus are simply too strong at this point to falter and the firepower isn’t there. Morocco will gracefully exit the competition after enchanting the entire footballing globe with its amazing run since a collision course with Messi and Argentina appears to be the only viable option at this point.