Argentina v Croatia Betting Tips and Picks

  • Argentina v Croatia
  • Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 14:00 ET
  • At the Lusail International Stadium, Lusail

The first semi-final of World Cup 2022 between Argentina and Croatia promises to be a gripping battle between two heavyweights and this one could go the distance.

Who do Bettors Favor?

Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks we can see that bettors are favoring Argentina significantly. The two-time World Cup winner is considered a -130 chance in this game, while Croatia, which made the final in 2018, is the underdog at +450 and the draw is rated at +240.

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World Cup Semi-Final Briefing

As Croatia only became an independent nation in the early 1990s, there is a relatively limited history between these teams, but they have met twice at the World Cup.

The two semi-finalists for World Cup 2022 have played one another five times since 1994, and the head-to-head record is split with two wins apiece and one draw. They have also shared the spoils at the World Cup, winning once each.

Their first World Cup encounter came in 1998 when they were both drawn in Group H of the tournament. Argentina won that game 1-0, with a goal scored by Mauricio Pineda, which enabled the South American team to finish on top of the Group with Croatia in second. It was Croatia who had the last laugh, however, as it went on to reach the semi-finals while Argentina crashed out in the quarter-finals.

Twenty years later, the two teams met again in the Group stage, but this time the fixture was a lot more one-sided as Croatia shocked the South American side with a convincing 3-0 victory that left Argentina needing to win its final game to go through. It was able to do so, but crashed out against France in the Round of 16, while Croatia went on to reach the final.

Battling Argentina Two Steps from Glory

Two-time winners of the World Cup, Argentina’s recent attempts to add a third title have all ended in failure or disappointment. And when this year’s Argentina team lost to Saudi Arabia in its opening game, fans must have feared the worst, with two tougher games against Mexico and Poland to come.

Yet pleasingly, this time seems to have far more resolve than some of its predecessors. That has been evident in the way that it won both of its remaining Group games before comfortably beating Australia in the Round of 16. The quarter-finals produced a further test of psychological strength as victory was snatched from Argentina’s grasp with a late Netherlands equalizer. Undaunted, the Argentine players regrouped and held their nerve to win the penalty shootout.

Now Lionel Messi and his teammates are two steps from glory and are favorites to beat Croatia. This game won’t be easy and Argentina will have to dig deep. With Gonzalo Montiel and Marcus Acuna missing through suspension, head coach Lionel Scaloni will have to shuffle his defense, and will also have to come up with a way to match the Croatian midfield if Argentina is to go through.

Underestimated Croatia Hard to Beat

Croatia has once again reached the last four at a World Cup with very little fanfare. Much of that is down to the fact that it has not played particularly eye-catching football and required penalties to beat both of its last two opponents, but equally, it has not looked like losing any of its games so far and has largely been in control, while remaining extremely hard to beat.

Head coach Zlatko Dalic has molded an extremely impressive team and unlike his opposite number, will be able to go into this game with his preferred starting lineup. Having been tested multiple times under the pressure of big occasions, Croatia is confident and capable of taking on Argentina.

World Cup Semi-Final Match Betting

These teams are well-matched. Argentina has the edge in creativity and goal-scoring but Croatia is extremely well-organized and has a world-class midfield. Another concern for Argentina is that Croatia, orchestrated by Luka Modric, will aim to exploit the spaces behind the Argentine wing backs, and the fact that Scaloni will have to make defensive changes could make his team vulnerable.

Defensive organization has trumped attacking flair repeatedly at this tournament so far and in another tense knockout game, it would be no surprise to see this one go all the way to extra time and maybe penalties. Once a game gets that far, as we have seen, victory can go either way, so with its proven experience at coming through penalty shootouts, Croatia looks the better semi-final pick.

DrawArgentina v Croatia
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CroatiaTo advance to World Cup final
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Chris Boline

Chris Boline is a renowned sports journalist with a lifelong passion for the industry. Originally from Reno, Nevada, he is a key business development figure in college athletics, with over a decade of experience with the NBA G League, Los Angeles Chargers, and Mountain West Conference. Boline holds an MBA from the University of Nevada. He has received MVP and "Best of" honors from the NBA/Sacramento Kings, Nevada Press Association, and more. His work has been showcased statewide and nationally. Boline has established himself as an expert in MLB and legal sports betting developments. When he's not immersed in the world of sports, Chris finds joy in exploring nature's wonders.