Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Sha'ban 28, 1444 H
overcast clouds
27°C / 27°C

Scaloni expecting another Messi masterclass

Dalic confident of a composed Croatian performance
No Image

DOHA: Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni exuded confidence that Messi and company will deliver another scintillating performance against Croatia to reach one step closer to lifting the World Cup 2022.

“We are all set for another epic battle. It will be tough against a Croatian side full of top quality players,” Scaloni told a pre-match press conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

Argentina overcame a tense battle against the Netherlands to reach the semifinals. After going ahead by two goals late into the second half, Argentina were stunned by substitute Wout Weghorst, who slotted in two goals to make the score level.

La Albiceleste moved into the last four with a 4-3 score in the penalties.

“We have analysed how Croatia performed in their knockout matches. It is going to be a great challenge for us. But we are ready for it,” Scaloni said.

The Argentina manager said Angel Di Maria and Rodrigo De Paul are both ready to play. They will miss the service of suspended Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel in the semifinal.

“We have our style of play and system. We will follow that in every match unless some changes are forced by the match situation.”

Scaloni rejected the criticism regarding Argentine players’ behaviour after the Netherlands match.

“Sometimes football is played with a lot of intensity and emotions. It was just one of those days.”

He said Messi’s inspirational leadership and the quality of his players are a crucial factor in the semifinal against Croatia at the Lusail Stadium with kick-off at 11 pm (Oman Time).

“Messi is a great inspiration to the squad. We have a bunch of quality players. In this World Cup, we showed our capability of fighting back from adverse situations and living the pressure moments.”

“In the semifinal, we are set for a tough game. We are focused on our strengths to go past Croatia,” Scaloni added.

On a query on Luka Modric, Scaloni said his team is aware of the threat posed by Modric and other top players of Croatia.

“Modric is a phenomenal player. He is a great character on and off the field. We are prepared for the top players of Croatia. We have a job in hand.”

Argentine player Nicolas Tagliafico said that the squad is all pumped up after their tense win against the Netherlands.

“It was an emotional win for us especially after their late comeback. We withstood the pressure in the penalty shoot-out as well,” Tagliafico said.

“Our squad is ready for any situation in the semifinal also. We hope for a best outcome for Argentina,” the Argentina left back added.


Croatian head coach Zlatko Dalic looked calm at the press conference ahead of their crunch last-four clash against Argentina.

“We are taking each match at a time and now it is time for the big match against Argentina. We know the capabilities of Argentina. Our team has prepared well,” Dalic said.

Croatia have thoroughly reviewed the challenges awaiting them, said Dalic.

“We were mentally strong to emerge victors in some tense knockout matches. So our squad is essentially ready for the semifinal.”

“We have become one of the top four teams in the world. So, we want to go further and dream like any of the sides in the tournament.”

“We are calm and composed and will put in all our efforts to reach the final,” he added.


The first Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 semifinal brings together two teams that reached the last four with dramatic penalty shoot-out victories, Croatia overcoming Brazil before Argentina knocked out the Netherlands.

The teams are evenly matched historically, both in terms of matches overall, with two wins apiece and one draw, and at the World Cup, with one group-stage victory each. Argentina prevailed 1-0 in 1998 while Croatia claimed a 3-0 success over Lionel Messi and Co in 2018, with Luka Modric among the scorers. The nations have not met since that match in Nizhny Novgorod.

Whereas Croatia lost their first World Cup semifinal, 2-1 to France in 1998, and won the second, 2-1 after extra time against England in 2018, Argentina have emerged victorious from all four of their previous semifinals – against the US in 1930 (6-1), Belgium in 1986 (2-0), Italy in 1990 (1-1, 4-3 on penalties) and the Netherlands in 2014 (0-0, 4-2 on penalties).

arrow up
home icon