With a double from Julian Alvarez on Tuesday December 13, Argentina punished Croatia (3-0) in the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup and offered their captain Lionel Messi a new planetary final on Sunday, against France or against Morocco, opposites on Wednesday.
Eight years after having stumbled on the last rung of the 2014 World Cup (1-0 against Germany), the Albiceleste seems carried by a sacred mission in Qatar: to hoist its captain and number 10 on the roof of the world, at the same altitude as the icon Diego Maradona.
And after Australia in the round of 16 (2-1), after the Netherlands in the quarters (2-2 aet, 4 pens to 3), this time it was Croatia, vice-world champion 2018, who succumbed in the semi-finals in front of the Argentinian and the magic of his number 10.
“This group is amazing, we did it, we did it, we’re going to play another final”, the sixth in the history of Argentina, savored Lionel Messi, who can offer a third star to his selection.
Best squire of “King Leo” Tuesday evening, the untenable Julian Alvarez first caused a penalty, converted by Messi (34th) who at the same time joined Kylian Mbappé at the top of the scorers’ rankings with a 5th achievement. The young Manchester City striker then doubled the lead after a disheveled counter-attack, with all the success of his 22-year-old (39th).
But Messi remains Messi: on the third goal, it was the PSG star who drove the Croatian defense crazy before serving back Alvarez (69th), author of his fourth goal in this World Cup.
Thousands of Argentine supporters massed in the stands
In a Lusail stadium acquired from the sky and white camp, these goals freed the thousands of Argentine supporters massed in the stands, religiously devoted to the cause of “their” Messi (35) despite the initial difficulties of the Albiceleste in Qatar (including a 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia).
They hope to be just as numerous on Sunday for the final, scheduled in the same stadium (4 p.m.), while Croatia will have to settle for the match for third place on Saturday (4 p.m.), against the loser of the other semi-final , France-Morocco, scheduled for Wednesday (8 p.m.).
A “deserved loss”
“It’s a deserved loss. acknowledged Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic on Tuesday. We lost, but I can’t fault the boys. They gave their maximum during this tournament. »
This outcome is heartbreaking for the master to play Luka Modric (37), who undoubtedly dreamed of the most beautiful scene to end his career in the World Cup… even if a possible third world podium after 1998 (3rd) and 2018 (2nd) would reward the immense footballing talent of this small country of less than 4 million inhabitants.