Considered one of the favorites to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Argentina defeated the Netherlands in their quarterfinal match to book a place in the semifinals. Lionel Messi once proved himself to be his team’s star player with an assist and a goal, in what is likely to be his last World Cup.
The Argentina captain first set up Nahuel Molina in the 35th minute to give Argentina a 1-0 lead and then extended it in the 73rd minute with a penalty. Meanwhile, Wout Weghorst staged a comeback for the Dutch, making it 1-2 in the 83rd minute and then equalizing after added time. With the match going into extra time, both teams failed to find a winner, leaving their fates to rest in a penalty shootout. In the penalty shootout, Emiliano Martínez emerged victorious with some brilliant saves as Argentina secured a 4-3 victory on penalties.
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Last month, Messi had already declared that this would be his last World Cup. So ahead of Argentina’s semi-final game against Croatia, coach Lionel Scaloni gave a big update on Messi’s international future. “We hope he continues playing. Let’s see if he does. We will continue to enjoy it, that is important for us and for the world of football”, he said.
Argentina faces Croatia in their semifinal match, at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium on Wednesday. The European team had to defeat Brazil in a quarterfinal shootout to reach the quarterfinals. This is also the third World Cup meeting between Argentina and Croatia, and the first in the round of 16. Argentina won 1-0 in 1998, before Croatia’s 3-0 victory at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. For its part, CONMEBOL will seek to reach the World Cup final for the sixth time, a figure second only to Germany (8). They have never been knocked out at the semi-final stage before, most recently beating the Dutch in 2014.