Argentina vs. Croatia 3-0: Messi and Alvarez lead Albiceleste to World Cup final

Argentina vs. Croatia 3-0: Messi and Alvarez lead Albiceleste to World Cup final

Argentina vs. Croatia 3-0: Argentina advanced to the 2022 World Cup final with a 3-0 victory against Croatia on Tuesday evening.

Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez led Argentina’s onslaught, cutting their plucky underdog opponents to the sword and guaranteeing Argentina’s comfortable trip to Sunday’s match.

After a cagey and edgy first quarter-hour, Argentina caught Croatia off guard on a counter-attack. Enzo Fernandez’s through the pass over the top for Alvarez seemed skewed, but the striker handled it smartly and made a drive for a goal. While his attempt to dink Dominik Livakovic was cleared off the line, the goalie obstructed him, and a penalty was granted.

Messi smashed the penalty shot into the top right corner to break the tie and put Argentina ahead, becoming his country’s all-time leading scorer in World Cups.

Argentina scored their second goal soon after, capitalising on another swift break. Croatia was left scrambling to cope with Alvarez’s speed on the ball and Nahuel Molina’s dash to his right. The Manchester City teenager was robbed of control by Josip Juranovic and Borna Sosa, but the ball kept bobbling straight back into his path, and he ultimately managed to push the ball beyond Livakovic.

Zlatko Dalic’s troops were on the verge of losing before the first half had even begun. As Argentina’s attack continued, Livakovic turned away Nicolas Tagliafico’s header from an Alexis Mac Allister corner.

A cross from Juranovic almost slipped in at Emiliano Martinez’s near post, but it lacked the necessary velocity to fool him, and Argentina went into the break two up.

Dalic wasted no time and started the second man with Mislav Orsic and Nikola Vlasic, with quarter-final hero Bruno Petkovic swiftly following.

Messi managed to stay on his feet and shoot a shot at Livakovic’s near post after a fast give-and-go with Alvarez around the back of Josko Gvardiol, but the Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper was equal to his attempt.

Dejan Lovren’s header from an in-swinging free-kick on the hour mark was mistimed, allowing Martinez to gratefully claw it away from immediate danger, with his defenders mopping up afterward.

Argentina’s third goal of the night was all about Messi, who twisted and turned his way past Gvardiol before passing the ball across for Alvarez to tap in and all but seal the game.

Luka Modric was substituted in the last ten minutes to applause from the primarily Argentine audience, who almost saw their team score a fourth when Paulo Dybala almost by mistake teed up Alexis Mac Allister, finally threading him through but with the final shot off target.

Ivan Perisic brilliantly flicked on Lovro Majer’s corner and straight through the six-yard box, with Lovren the closest to making a telling touch.

Argentina’s passage to the final was confirmed after five minutes of stoppage time, ending Croatia’s dream.

Argentina player Ratings (4-4-2):Argentina vs. Croatia 3-0

GK: Emiliano Martinez – 6/10 He Had nothing to do except well command his territory and claim some deadly crosses.

RB: Nahuel Molina – 7/10 – His darting run had Croatia on sixes and sevens in the buildup to Alvarez’s goal, demonstrating his final-third menace again.

CB: Cristian Romero – 6/10 – Defended with customary zeal, although he was too enthusiastic at the anxious start. After that, we settled down and played a more composed game with a 2-0 lead.

CB: Nicolas Otamendi – 7/10 – Unlike Romero, who needed time to calm down, Otamendi seemed collected from the start.

LB: Nicolas Tagliafico – 6/10 – Easily took Pasalic out of the game with no effort.

6/10 RM: Rodrigo De Paul He wasn’t as ineffective as he had been in prior games, but he still made several weird, wayward throws. For the most part, it didn’t matter, and his mobility was essential in changing formation on the fly.

CM: Leandro Paredes – 6/10 – Was also guilty of several overhit passes and had a challenging assignment against Croatia’s legendary midfield three, but performed well.

CM: Enzo Fernandez – 7/10 – Argentina’s best passer of the night and a greater surger forward to join assaults than his teammates.

Alexis Mac Allister (7/10) Picked up clever positions between the lines but was sometimes overwhelmed by the occasion.

CF: Lionel Messi – 9/10 – When he was seen clutching his hamstring early on, fans feared the worst, but Messi quickly recovered his rhythm and produced a spectacular performance at the Lusail Iconic Stadium. Croatia was at a loss as to how to stop him, whether he was strolling or sprinting.

Julian Alvarez, CF – 9/10 The only reason he hasn’t yet become a Manchester City star is that the club also boasts Erling Haaland. Alvarez led the line well and seemed to be the ideal partner for Messi.

Manager: Lionel Scaloni – 8/10 – Argentina excelled where Brazil failed, consistently opening up Croatia on the counterattack and via Messi while preserving their defensive stability.

Croatian player Rating (4-3-3):Argentina vs. Croatia 3-0

GK: Dominik Livakovic – 5/10 It was regrettable that a penalty was awarded. Other saves were made to keep the score down.

RB: Josip Juranovic – 4/10 – Failed to obtain a decisive touch to knock the ball away from Alvarez before Argentina’s second goal.

CB: Dejan Lovren – 2/10 – If you live for Lovren, you’ll die for Lovren. The former Liverpool defender was his typical clumsy self as he played Alvarez miles onside leading up to the penalty.

CB: Josko Gvardiol – 3/10 – Constantly pulled wide and played as if in a back three rather than a back four. Messi tore him apart again and again in the second half.

Borna Sosa – 2/10 – He always took his initial touch as though he were lining himself up for a cross. The issue was that he wasn’t constantly crossing the ball. Argentina’s second goal came as a result of abysmal defense. At halftime, I was hooked.

DM: Marcelo Brozovic – 5/10 – Provided steeliness and skill at the basis of the midfield but was sacrificed for Petkovic, a target man.

CM: Luka Modric – 7/10 – Had early success moving through midfield and put in a defensive shift, but his efforts were eventually futile.

Mateo Kovacic – 7/10 – Similarly looked bright early on, as Argentina struggled to stop his unique dribbles.

RW: Mario Pasalic – 3/10 – Another near-identical effort from Pasalic, who was quickly replaced at halftime.

Andrej Kramaric CF – 3/10 – Commentators love to point to Kramaric’s dismal tenure at Leicester, but with performances like his current World Cup, it’s simple to understand why.

Ivan Perisic – 5/10 – LW Made sound judgments but couldn’t bring the spark Croatia needed.

Manager: Zlatko Dalic – 5/10 – Croatia’s bend-but-don’t-break tactics ultimately broke way, although there was nothing they could have done to stop Messi and Alvarez other than individual mistakes.

Julian Alvarez was named Player of the Match.