Croatia to reach second successful World Cup final

Argentina and Croatia will play out the first semi-final of the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday night at the Lusail Stadium, with plenty of stories that could reach their conclusion at the tournament. This opportunity is likely to be Leo Messi's last to lift the trophy, whilst his side's opponents will want to make a second final in a row and go one better than they managed in 2018. Read our preview here:

How do you solve a problem like Di María?

La Albiceleste staved off an almighty scare after looking like they were cruising into the last four, only for the Netherlands to come back and force a penalty shoot-out. Though they'd generally had the better of things in open play, it was difficult for them not to over-rely on Messi, with the other creative outlets largely blocked off. Angel Di María wasn't fit enough to start that match, but could come in to provide the width on the right that might help to ease that pressure and create the space required to bring other threats into play more often. His inclusion could be crucial as both starting full-backs Marcos Acuña and Gonzalo Montiel are suspended, and neither of their replacements are as attack-minded. Lionel Scaloni will probably opt for a reversion to the 4-3-3 to match Croatia's shape and to compensate for those absences.

Sosa far, so good

Zlatko Dalić doesn't have any certainties out, though Bayern Munich defender Josip Stanišić remains a doubt. The starting lineup is likely to have a very settled, familiar complexion to it, unless the head coach opts to reward Bruno Petković's goal against Brazil from the bench with the full 90 minutes here in an even bigger contest. Josko Gvardiol has drawn plenty of plaudits at the heart of the back four, though colleague Borna Sosa has been equally as good on the left. He is set to have a stern examination from Di María, but could also offer Vatreni plenty going forward if given the instructions and encouragement to do so. Once more, the midfield three will seek to control the tempo, just as they did (eventually) with Japan and A Seleção. If it goes to penalties, they'll be supremely confident, having dispatched both of those nations that way already in Qatar.

Betting tip

Parimatch have odds of 3.00 for Croatia to defy expectations yet again and reach the final by any means, where they will either play France once more or Morocco.

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