Argentina and Croatia meet in the 2022 World Cup semifinal, knowing a spot in the title match is on the line. One of these teams was expected to be here, but the other one was not.
The Albiceleste came into the World Cup as second-favorites to win the tournament, behind only fellow CONMEBOL foes Brazil.
The tournament seemed destined to pit the two South American rivals against each other in this semifinal, but Croatia spoiled the party by downing Brazil on penalties in the quarterfinal. The 2018 finalists are aiming to reach their second-straight title match, after falling just short at the hands of France four years ago.
Now, Luka Modric and company will hope to do the same to Lionel Messi and Argentina, who escaped with a penalty shootout win over the Netherlands in their quarterfinal despite a late capitulation that nearly doomed their World Cup hopes as well.
Messi, likely in his last FIFA World Cup, is once again putting his nation on his shoulders in the hopes of reaching a summit that neither he nor chief rival Cristiano Ronaldo has managed to crest.