The first of the two semifinals of the world cup kicks off today, with both countries and their talisman eyeing a place in the final and probably one last dance before bowing out of the international stage.
Both sides kicked off their campaigns in rocky fashion, with Argentina shocked by unfancied Saudi Arabia, losing 2-1. Such was the magnitude of the victory that the Saudi government declared a national holiday a day after. Since then though, the Argentines have picked up the pace in the ensuing matches, going on to beat Poland and Mexico comfortably to top their group before eliminating Australia and the Netherlands to reach the Semi-final.
At the core of this revival has been one man – Lionel Messi. Featuring at his fifth world cup, he has been at the centre of every attacking move for his side, creating and scoring as well. With four goals, he is just a goal behind Kylian Mbappé of France in the race for the golden boot. At this stage, they are many people’s favourite to go on and win the cup for the third time.
Croatia on their part have shown a lot of grit to get to this stage; at different times they have been on the brink of elimination, but somehow found their way back to life as typified in that Quarterfinal penalty shootout victory over Brazil, where they seemed down and out, but equalized in the 117th minute of extra time.
Indeed if they are to win this match, they will be counting on their midfield Maestro Luka Modric; who is the team’s heartbeat, to continue to dictate play from the midfield alongside able deputies Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic.
Whichever way the pendulum swings, we will surely be treated to more excitement and drama as both teams and star players look to create history and bow out as champions.