World Cup 2022: Best bets for Argentina-Croatia match

By Nigel Seeley  (VSiN.com) 

December 12, 2022 11:13 PM
Messi

Best bets for the Argentina-Croatia World Cup match

Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET

And then there were four!  Argentina who was my +600 pre-tournament pick, who amazingly lost their opening game against Saudi Arabia, take on Croatia at the incredible Lusail Stadium in the first semifinal tomorrow.

Croatia, the losing finalists to France at the last World Cup in Russia, have surprised many including myself with this aging squad. They’ve reached the final four under coach Zlatko Dalic after dumping tournament favorites Brazil on penalty kicks in the quarterfinal. It’s their second straight match that has gone the distance. And despite an 11-game unbeaten streak, they go into this semifinal at +200 dogs to reach back-to-back World Cup Finals and a +400 chance to do something that they’ve only managed once in five matches at this World Cup—to win a match in regular time.

Argentina also needed penalties to defeat the Netherlands in a foul-tempered quarterfinal clash. They head into this match as a heavy -250 favorite to make another World Cup final and a very tempting -110 to win in 90 minutes against a Croatian side that physically and emotionally must be out on their feet.

A win here will put Lionel Scaloni’s team back in the World Cup final and on course for their first win in the tournament since 1986. Scaloni and his players have been on an emotional rollercoaster in Qatar, losing to Saudi Arabia 2-1 in one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history. That must have rocked the squad, but they battled back to beat both Mexico and Poland 2-0 with Messi shining and scoring. With Messi on your side, you always have a chance, and the GOAT is +300 to open the scoring at the Lusail and +125 to score at any time. Messi has scored first for Argentina in four of their last six matches, so both of those goal-scorer props will be popular with bettors. Scaloni goes into this huge game with Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna suspended and Alejandro Gómez struggling to be fit following a sprained ankle.

Croatia is a difficult side to beat as shown in their 11-game unbeaten run. In both knockout games during this World Cup, they prevailed on penalties against Japan and Brazil. One amazing stat: Croatia has only been in the lead for 46 minutes in this whole tournament and has still made it into the semifinal! But how much has that Brazil match taken out of them? That’s why, despite Argentina’s suspensions, I make Croatia a fade tomorrow.

Coach Dalic is in the enviable position of heading into this semifinal with no suspensions or injuries within the squad. Talisman Luka Modric is still pulling the midfield strings at 37, and Dalic hopes the maestro has two huge performances left in him. The both-teams-to-score market has cashed in seven of Croatia’s last eight World Cup knockout stage games and is +128 here. With Argentina conceding two goals against both Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, and with their never-say-die attitude, that might be a nice pick.

It goes without saying Croatia will be a tough opponent. But Messi is playing so well. Not only is he focused on winning the World Cup, but he wants to be crowned top goal scorer and player of the tournament. I think Argentina wins this game to make the final. I make them the pick at -110, as I just can’t see the Croatians playing with the intensity that they have shown over 120 minutes of football in their last two matches.

Pick: Argentina to Win at (-110)

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