2022 World Cup – Wednesday 14 December 2022
Argentina 3 (2) – (0) 0 Croatia (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail)
Argentina scorers: Messi (34′ pen), Alvarez (39′, 69′)
Well there won’t be a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final as Croatia bowed out to two-time winners Argentina. The more you watch the tournament the more you wonder if this is some sort of conspiracy against the European nations. The award of the penalty on thirty four minutes to give Argentina the lead through Messi looked nothing more than a collision between Alvarez and the Croatian ‘keeper and changed the course of the game, given that if the teams had gone in at the break level, Argentina would no doubt have become frustrated. Still reeling from the penalty award the error was compounded by poor defending from the Croats five minutes later allowing Alvarez to double the South Americans advantage. With the game over the victory was secured by the best goal of the three from Manchester City’s Alvarez on sixty-nine minutes. Fans at the Etihad will be heartened by the showing of the young forward who has now scored four goals in the tournament. However, for Croatia they bowed out with a whimper and not a bang, with the talent that Luka Modric probably never to grace a World Cup finals again. He’ll be missed.
It’s a bit of a rant on my part, but the media love-in with Messi is simply draining. The claim that he is the GOAT is flawed in my opinion. He’s never tested himself, residing in two of the world’s weakest leagues La Liga and Lique 1 surrounded by quality players at both Barcelona and PSG. It’ll be a blessed relief when he retires.
The European nations have been the loudest voice against Qatar, and one wonders what may occur later today in the France v Morocco game to ensure Africa’s first ever finalist or is all about ensuring Messi goes out with a World Cup winners medal? The whole tournament has a bad smell since the award in 2010 and feels like it will linger until the final.
France v Morocco (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor)
France topped Group D at this winter’s World Cup and had already qualified for the last sixteen with wins over Australia (4-1) and Denmark (2-1) before a much changed Les Bleus lost to Tunisia (1-0). They French then eased pass Poland 3-1 before eliminating England 2-1 in the Quarter Finals. France have been great in patches and very ordinary in others and will be very wary of a Morocco side who have already created history. It will feel like a home game for the Ousud Al-atlas (Atlas Lions), who supporters have attended in large numbers and created an incredible atmosphere.
Will my conspiracy theory come to pass and see Morocco through, or will the current World Champions get the chance to defend their crown?