Croatia’s 14 years of extra-time drama
Croatia’s usual drama has continued in Qatar as eight out of the last nine Euro and World Cup knockout matches that the Balkan side have played have gone to extra time.
Argentina vs Croatia: Line-ups
Penalties Could Be the Decider
Argentina have never been eliminated from the World Cup in the final four and have progressed to the final every time that they have got this far – the fifth and most recent of which came in the 2014 tournament before their heartbreaking defeat to Germany.
Scaloni’s gallant goalscorers enter the semi-finals having made the net ripple twice in each of their last four matches in all tournaments – scoring in each of their last 14 in total – but facing the staunch rearguard action of Croatia is a challenge that Messi and co must prepare for with due diligence.
Dalic’s side remarkably reached the 2018 World Cup final without winning any of their knockout games in normal time, and history is on the verge of repeating itself for the Checkered Ones, who are now unbeaten in 11 matches ahead of their showdown with Argentina.
Croatia would be in elite company if they can progress to the showpiece event – only Italy, the Netherlands and Germany have ever reached back-to-back finals – and Dalic’s side can take confidence in the fact that they have never failed to score in 10 World Cup knockout fixtures.
Argentina and Croatia have met twice before in the World Cup group stage, with La Albiceleste prevailing 1-0 in 1998, but the Checkered Ones secured a memorable 3-0 win over Argentina in Russia four years ago, and several members of that team are still around to try to make lightning strike twice in Lusail.
Another World Cup knockout game for Croatia, another period of extra time? Strap in. Dalic’s defenders have performed their hearts out in Qatar so far, and Argentina did not do an exemplary job of breaking down the Dutch before the individual brilliance of Messi shone through. Knowing how dangerous the Croatians are from 12 yards, Scaloni should call upon his enviable wealth of attacking options to try to put the game to bed in normal time, but it may take 120 minutes for La Albiceleste to deny the Checkered Ones another final appearance and set up a tantalising contest with Morocco or France.