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The 2022 World Cup semifinals are right here. After an exhilarating spherical of sixteen and quarterfinals, we’re into the enterprise finish of the event with 4 teams remaining. There’s an unimaginable deal of star power, good matchups and prime gamers who all have their eyes set on hoisting the trophy on Dec. 18.

The movement begins Tuesday with Croatia and Argentina kicking off, then defending champions France sort out underdogs Morocco a day later. however earlier than the video games start, preview every group with key issues to reaching the remaining, gamers to know and predictions from our ESPN writers.

– World Cup 2022: information and options | Schedule | Bracket
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Have they met just at present? that is their third meeting at a World Cup, however first inside the knockouts. Argentina gained the foremost meeting 1-zero in 1998’s group stage, with Croatia worthwhile three-zero in 2018.

Odds to win World Cup (through Caesars Sportsbook): Argentina +one hundred fifty five; Croatia +650.

Argentina are -one hundred fifty to advance from the semifinal, whereas Croatia are +450.

Why Croatia will attain the remaining

Coach Zlatko Dalic spoke heaps inside the aftermath of Croatia’s quarterfinal victory over Brazil on penalties about their “combating spirit,” and regardless of the exact confirmed actuality that it is not one factor you almost certainly can quantify with statistics or information, it is going to be the one factor that worries Argentina most.

Croatia have a unbelievable capability to maintain in a recreation. Their midfield three of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic have the technical capability on the ball to regulate large spells and as quickly as they ought to defend, they’re dogged and organised.

Argentina, even with Lionel Messi, will discover it very arduous to interrupt them down and the longer the sport stays even, Croatia will solely develop in notion. Eight of their previous 9 knockout matches at foremost tournaments have gone to further time, beating each Japan and Brazil on penalties all by means of their run in Qatar. additionally they gained two shootouts — in opposition to Denmark and Russia — on their method to the remaining in 2018.

Croatia will hope to disrupt Argentina and Messi prolonged enough for panic to set in after which look to take benefit. Their file on the previous two World Cups suggests it is a properly-formulated plan. in the event that they will knock out Brazil, they will truly do the similar to Argentina. — Rob Dawson

Why Croatia will not attain the remaining

the plain purpose for Argentina reaching the remaining over Croatia is that, merely put, they’ve greater gamers. there is a purpose that Argentina and Messi arrived in Qatar aiming to carry the trophy whereas Croatia and Modric turned up hoping to make it by means of the group levels — expectation based mostly purely on the depth of expertise every coach has obtainable.

utterly different than placing 4 previous Canada inside the teams, Croatia have found the internet simply twice of their utterly different 4 video games and scored inside the 116th minute in opposition to Brazil with their solely shot on the right track — and even that wished a large deflection.

they’d a marvellous run to the remaining in 2018, however as quickly as there, the remaining hurdle in opposition to France felt like one recreation too far. They conceded 4 targets in sixty five minutes. It was hardly a shock given they’d performed the equal of an further recreation inside the knockouts after going for a hundred and twenty minutes inside the spherical of sixteen, quarterfinal and semifinal.

After further time and penalties in opposition to Japan and Brazil, there is a hazard Croatia might run out of steam in opposition to Argentina, notably when coach Lionel Scaloni can flip to his bench and throw on a quantity of world-class gamers. — Dawson

Why Argentina will attain the remaining

maybe it is nothing extra, or much less, than destiny. that is virtually truly Lionel Messi‘s final shot at worthwhile a World Cup, and he has dragged Argentina to this stage by his brilliance and power of character. he is not the participant he was in his prime, with that electrical burst of tempo, however at 35, he has proven he is nonetheless in a place to creating the essential distinction.

His targets in opposition to Mexico and Australia set Argentina on their method to huge wins, whereas his reverse move for Nahuel Molina to attain inside the quarterfinal in opposition to Netherlands was truly one of many moments of this World Cup.

Messi should discover one factor magical as quickly as extra to beat a Croatia group that manages event soccer greater than most. The 2018 World Cup finalists are a troublesome, proud group with Modric as influential as Messi. however there does really feel a strategy of future about Argentina this time round. — Mark Ogden

Why Argentina will not attain the remaining

Take Messi out of the group and Argentina are a restricted side. For a rustic that has produced some unimaginable gamers, there’s an exact scarcity of world-class assist for Messi. Julian Alvarez, Enzo Fernandez and Alexis Mac Allister have all had a great event in Qatar, however they do not appear to be world beaters. How Argentina might use truly one of their former good strikers, similar to Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Batistuta proper now.

Argentina’s lack of tempo and creativity hasn’t been a extreme problem up to now, however as a end result of the event approaches its decisive stage, the important factor particulars matter they usually might want to get your hands on one factor further to beat Croatia.

Lionel Scaloni’s group ought to discover a strategy to cease Modric dominating the sport collectively with his movement of the ball in midfield, however that is the identical problem for all of Croatia’s opponents and few are in a place to tug it off. This recreation will come down as to if Argentina can cease Modric, however in addition how they will threaten Croatia in methods in which do not contain Messi. — Ogden

One Croatia participant to look at: Luka Modric

Modric is the plain various as a outcomes of his standing and expertise, however RB Leipzig centre-again Josko Gvardiol, 20, has been prime-of-the-line youthful gamers on the World Cup and Croatia will want him to be in prime type as quickly as extra.

Goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was the star in opposition to Brazil, and also you’d assume he’ll ought to make no decrease than merely a few saves in opposition to Argentina if there’s going to be one other shock end result.

If Croatia want to damage Argentina, Celtic proper-again Josip Juranovic is an environment nice outlet. Argentina have not settled on their full-backs and Juranovic induced Brazil factors collectively with his runs down the becoming flank. — Dawson

One Argentina participant to look at: Emiliano Martinez

The Argentina goalkeeper has had his critics on this event, however he rose to the event all by means of the penalty shootout win in opposition to Netherlands. and since no group takes video games to penalties as usually, and effectively, as Croatia, Argentina might have the Aston Villa No. 1 to current heroics as quickly as extra.

however Martinez’s function goes past his capability with penalties. he is a commanding presence and one who will try to dominate the penalty space, so Argentina no decrease than know they’ve a keeper they will rely on. — Ogden


Argentina 2-1 Croatia (AET): it is Croatia, so it would further time, however this time they will discover Argentina have an extreme quantity of firepower and will not be succesful to maintain on for penalties. — Dawson

Argentina 1-1 Croatia (Argentina win on penalties): This recreation feels want it is going to be a tense battle for a hundred and twenty minutes and might finally go to penalties. If that occurs, both side know from current expertise how one can win on spot-kicks. — Ogden


1:forty one

Craig Burley is stuffed with reward for Morocco’s efficiency and resilience after they flip into the foremost African group to make it to a World Cup semifinal.


Morocco vs. France
Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; 2 p.m. ET

Have they met just at present? that is the foremost time since 2007, as quickly as they drew 2-2 in a nice. they’ve by no means met at a World Cup.

Odds to win World Cup (through Caesars Sportsbook): France +a hundred and twenty; Morocco +one thousand.

France are -200 to advance from the semifinal, whereas Morocco are +625.

Why Morocco will attain the remaining

No group has the identical momentum, no group has as a lot assist regionally and globally as these potential historic previous-makers. which will not be simply the foremost African nation to obtain the semifinal, it is additionally the foremost Arab nation and solely the second Muslim nation. In a sport that has traditionally been a closed affair between Europe and South America, a lot of the the rest of the world is cheering them on … they do not appear to be simply having fun with for themselves right here.

additionally they match up properly with France. They’ve conceded simply as quickly as all event (and that was an personal aim), they’ve proven the power to defend stoutly and concede little or no space behind for Kylian Mbappe to run into. they’ve the World Cup’s excellent keeper up to now (Yassine Bounou), they’ve two midfielders in Sofyan Amrabat and Azzedine Ounahi who’re on fireplace by method of quantity and extreme quality, they usually have wingers in Sofiane Boufal and Hakim Ziyech who can invent one factor out of nothing to get you a aim, which is usually all it takes at this stage of the opponents.

Most of all, they’re gritty they usually’re hungry. You’d again them in a avenue fight and, let’s face it, that is knockout soccer. video games are tight and it is so usually about depth, chutzpah and psychological toughness.

Now, who do you assume has extra in that division? Morocco or France, who wished Harry Kane to blast a penalty over the bar and a few barely doubtful calls to get previous England? have a look on the penalties Les Bleus conceded inside the quarterfinal (particularly the Theo Hernandez one), have a look on the strategy whereby they have been outplayed for a lot of the sport and ask your self: who’s extra centered proper now?

that is proper. it is Morocco. — Gabriele Marcotti

Why Morocco will not attain the remaining

Let’s dwell inside the true world right here. France are the reigning world champions for a purpose. they will throw up a stinker in opposition to England and nonetheless win. Morocco’s whole first-various again 4 are bodily hurting.

Achraf Hakimi is battle-scarred and hurting. Romain Saiss performed carrying an harm in opposition to Portugal and wished to return off. He might grit his tooth and play, however he is held collectively by masking tape and adrenaline proper now. Nayef Aguerd, the utterly different excellent centre-again missed the Portugal recreation, as did Noussair Mazraoui, the utterly different fullback. each are unlikely to function, each would give a kidney to be there.

subsequent man up? optimistic. however there is a purpose some stuff solely works in movies. Battering ram cult hero supersub Walid Cheddira is in all probability suspended after choosing up two yellows in minutes in opposition to Portugal, which means Youssef En Nesyri, additionally banged up, might want to steer the avenue on his personal.

What’s extra is that France boss Didier Deschamps has no qualms about shutting up store if he should. He gained the final World Cup having fun with primarily counterattacking soccer. This time, France have been simply a little extra expansive, however, primarily, they’ve so many one-on-one threats all by means of the pitch (Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman off the bench, Aurelien Tchouameni from distance) that a aim can come any time, from anyplace.

And, on set objects, Olivier Giroud, France’s all-time main aim scorer, who bagged the winner in opposition to England, plus the large Dayot Upamecano are extreme threats. There are a ton of the strategy France can win this recreation.

For Morocco, the path is strategy narrower. On paper, too slender to squeeze by means of. — Marcotti


1:forty eight

Mark Ogden supplies his evaluation on the right gamers in Qatar up to now.

Why France will attain the remaining

France confirmed in opposition to England all their resilience, ruthlessness and psychological energy. it is going to be a terribly utterly different recreation in opposition to Morocco, however they’ve all the pieces they ought to beat them.

Morocco beat Spain and Portugal as a end result of these two teams have been too one-dimensional. Les Bleus have heaps various. Giroud is the outdated school centre-forward always inside the discipline. Mbappe and Dembele have the tempo, expertise and tips to beat anyone on a one-vs.-one, which Spain and Portugal lacked. Griezmann will play between the traces, when you almost certainly can anticipate Hernandez to bomb forward from his left-again place.

The French have been there earlier than. they’re used to having fun with huge video games, in distinction to the Moroccans. the current world champions have the expertise and know-how in these variety of video games when the strain is extreme.

they’re additionally match. There aren’t any harm worries (in distinction to for the Moroccans), no fatigue, no suspensions, no gamers lacking both. they’re stuffed with confidence and momentum after the strategy whereby they beat England inside the quarterfinals. they’ve the right participant on the planet in Mbappe, who will face his most interesting buddy Hakimi, who he is aware of by coronary heart and might want to beat so he can return to scoring methods to clinch the Golden Boot award. — Julien Laurens

Why France will not attain the remaining

it is properly-recognized that this French group can get carried away and smug at occasions, and there might even be a hazard that they might take this recreation a bit calmly and get surprised by a dangerous Morocco side. We noticed it in opposition to Tunisia, albeit with a B group. It might happen as quickly as extra.

The French have been careworn in opposition to England. Harry Kane compelled Dayot Upamecano to make some errors that would have confirmed costly. Morocco and En Nesyri will certainly goal Upamecano with prolonged balls behind his again.they might even goal Jules Kounde at proper-again, the most very important weak spot inside the French defence. Boufal, the Morocco winger, is in good type this event and will have a go at Kounde.

On the utterly different side, the pair of Ziyech and Hakimi might even goal Hernandez and the not-so-eager-to-defend Mbappe. So France might undergo a bit defensively they usually will not discover the important factor offensively both in opposition to the right defence of the event up to now.

utterly different than Coman, Didier Deschamps would not have an possibility off the bench who’s as strong as a end result of the starters. He has good youthful forwards (Marcus Thuram, Kolo Muani) and midfielders (Youssouf Fofana) however nobody who can realistically change the sport. So the scarcity of depth might very properly be a draw again if France can not break the impasse. — Laurens

One Morocco participant to look at: Achraf Hakimi

he is arguably Morocco’s key attacking risk from deep, bursting down the becoming flank, overloading the midfield and delivering crosses. however he might even have the one hardest process on the day: containing his membership teammate Mbappe, the quickest factor on two legs at this World Cup.

it is an limitless ask for any proper-again, not to mention one like Hakimi, a pure wingback who’s extra about method than flat-out athleticism. you do not shut down Mbappe, however you almost certainly can include him for lots of of the sport, like Kyle Walker did for England. however there’ll probably be occasions he will get away from you. and that is a draw again. Hakimi might want to monster this recreation at each ends of the pitch. an limitless process for a particular person who has been huge this event. — Marcotti

One France participant to look at: Adrien Rabiot

The Juventus midfielder has been excellent up to now, and we do not say it enough. he is full. He defends, he assaults, he compensates, he shuffles, he tackles, he presses, he intercepts, he creates, he runs perpetually, he wins headers and he even scores targets and assists, too. He has been a revelation and such an asset for France in each recreation.

In a match the place Les Bleus might have an whole lot of the ball in opposition to a terribly low and compact block, his movement and impression with the ball will probably be very important. France’s left hand side is the strongest with Rabiot, Hernandez and Mbappe, and Rabiot should make it work as quickly as extra. He should play extreme to deliver a numerical benefit for the French to unlock the tight Moroccan defence. — Laurens


France 1-zero Morocco: After the scare in opposition to England, you almost certainly can anticipate Deschamps to get Les Bleus at their minimalist most interesting. discovering a aim by means of truly one of their superstars after which bolting the door. — Marcotti

France 2-zero Morocco: Morocco have been excellent up to now, however France will probably be a step too extreme. i do not assume they will recreate a third miracle in a row. The French will probably be too strong. — Laurens


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