Two legends of the game will have a fate with their World Cup destinies today when Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Luka Modrić led Croatia will cancel each other out for a place at the final of this year’s FIFA World Cup.
After a shock loss in their opening game to Saudi Arabia, Lionel Messi with Argentina has proven their intent to win this year’s tournament with the way they grind out results even when they seem not to be the better team. The last knockout game against the Dutch national team saw tempers overflow on the night and despite the Albicelestes winning on penalties, the South Americans did not hide their displeasure towards the referee and the Dutch players.
Meanwhile, the Croats who were runners-up at the last World Cup played in Russia had a somewhat modest qualifying into this year’s World Cup. Most pundits did not rate the Europeans as tournament favorites but they have shown the mental grit that characterized their Russia 2018 run which saw them play all knockout games into extra time except for the final which they lost to eventual champions France. Their last game which they played against 5-time champions Brazil dragged into penalties after they equalized in the 117th once again showing that they are always ready to fight for every ball. Aside from Luka Modrić, Dominik Livaković has been a save pair of hands in between the sticks for Croatia and his penalty saves during penalty shootouts have helped them to continue their campaign to glory.
On the balance of play, Argentina was favored to win because of the blend of experience and youthful flair they parade. On looking at the head-to-head record of both teams, Argentina has won 2 out of the 3 times both sides had met, with Croatia winning once and that was in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in a 3-nil victory.
Messi who has won almost every single accolade any football dreams of having is yet to have a World Cup winners medal on his neck and with his age currently at 35, the tournament in Qatar will be his last chance to equal or possibly surpass what Argentine legend Diego Maradona had for his country.
On the other hand, Luka Modrić is continued to play his heart out for his country and at age 37, he will want to go one better than the second place that his country got four years ago.