Superstars Emotional From What Might Be Their Last World Cup.

Tears are flowing from soccer’s greatest superstars as they make emotional exits from what is likely to be their final World Cup.

First it was Neymar. Then it was Cristiano Ronaldo. Might Lionel Messi be subsequent?

Momentum is constructing behind Messi’s push to cap his profession with the most important prize within the recreation. The 35-year-old Argentina playmaker has carried his group to the semifinals, nearly in the identical approach Diego Maradona — the person with whom Messi is so usually in contrast — led the South American nation to its second and most up-to-date World Cup title in 1986.

Now in Argentina’s approach is Croatia, a rustic with a inhabitants of 4 million which is establishing a fame as essentially the most cussed and sturdy of opponents whereas additionally boasting one among soccer’s most sleek gamers in Luka Modric.

The groups go face to face at Lusail Stadium — additionally the venue for Sunday’s ultimate — in a gathering between the final two runners-up on the match: Argentina in 2014 and Croatia in 2018.

Argentina might need been anticipated to be on this place. The group arrived on the World Cup because the Copa America champion, on a 36-match unbeaten run and with Messi again in chic type for Paris Saint-Germain.

There was a lot much less noise across the Croatians, but they carry on shocking identical to 4 years in the past when their run to the ultimate included a 3-0 victory over Argentina within the group stage. In addition they reached the World Cup semifinals in 1998.

Each groups have come by uncomfortable moments. Argentina’s darkest time was proper initially of the match, after a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in what’s going to go down as one of many World Cup’s greatest upsets.

Impressed by Messi and one of the vital fervent fan followings in Qatar, Argentina gained its ultimate two group video games, ended up squeezing previous Australia 2-1 within the spherical of 16 after which required penalties to get previous the Netherlands in a wild quarterfinal match.

Messi now has 4 objectives within the match in Qatar, leaving him one behind high scorer Kylian Mbappé. They’re most likely the 2 standout gamers at a World Cup that has seen many different high gamers stay as much as their lofty reputations.

Modric is a working example.

He may not have scored a aim. He hasn’t even had an help. However don’t underestimate the significance to Croatia of the little magician who retains issues ticking in midfield and manages to claim some management for a group which fights till the final minute.

In 2018, every of Croatia’s knockout video games went into further time earlier than the group misplaced to France within the ultimate, and the identical factor is going on in Qatar, with victories in penalty shootouts over Japan within the final 16 and Brazil within the quarterfinals.

Croatia seemed extra comfy in opposition to Brazil than in opposition to Japan, which exhibits the group is likely to be happier to ask stress and select its moments to interrupt ahead moderately than management video games and be extra vulnerable to the counterattack.

Containing Messi will likely be key and far of the duty there lies with holding midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who protected Croatia’s protection so nicely in opposition to Brazil.

Messi, Modric carry Argentina, Croatia into World Cup semis
By STEVE DOUGLAS
at present
Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring Argentina’s second aim in the course of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, on the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Picture/Francisco Seco)
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Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring Argentina’s second aim in the course of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, on the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Picture/Francisco Seco)
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Tears are flowing from soccer’s greatest superstars as they make emotional exits from what is likely to be their final World Cup.

First it was Neymar. Then it was Cristiano Ronaldo. Might Lionel Messi be subsequent?

Momentum is constructing behind Messi’s push to cap his profession with the most important prize within the recreation. The 35-year-old Argentina playmaker has carried his group to the semifinals, nearly in the identical approach Diego Maradona — the person with whom Messi is so usually in contrast — led the South American nation to its second and most up-to-date World Cup title in 1986.

Now in Argentina’s approach is Croatia, a rustic with a inhabitants of 4 million which is establishing a fame as essentially the most cussed and sturdy of opponents whereas additionally boasting one among soccer’s most sleek gamers in Luka Modric.

The groups go face to face at Lusail Stadium — additionally the venue for Sunday’s ultimate — in a gathering between the final two runners-up on the match: Argentina in 2014 and Croatia in 2018.

Argentina might need been anticipated to be on this place. The group arrived on the World Cup because the Copa America champion, on a 36-match unbeaten run and with Messi again in chic type for Paris Saint-Germain.

There was a lot much less noise across the Croatians, but they carry on shocking identical to 4 years in the past when their run to the ultimate included a 3-0 victory over Argentina within the group stage. In addition they reached the World Cup semifinals in 1998.

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Each groups have come by uncomfortable moments. Argentina’s darkest time was proper initially of the match, after a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in what’s going to go down as one of many World Cup’s greatest upsets.

Impressed by Messi and one of the vital fervent fan followings in Qatar, Argentina gained its ultimate two group video games, ended up squeezing previous Australia 2-1 within the spherical of 16 after which required penalties to get previous the Netherlands in a wild quarterfinal match.

Messi now has 4 objectives within the match in Qatar, leaving him one behind high scorer Kylian Mbappé. They’re most likely the 2 standout gamers at a World Cup that has seen many different high gamers stay as much as their lofty reputations.

Modric is a working example.

He may not have scored a aim. He hasn’t even had an help. However don’t underestimate the significance to Croatia of the little magician who retains issues ticking in midfield and manages to claim some management for a group which fights till the final minute.

In 2018, every of Croatia’s knockout video games went into further time earlier than the group misplaced to France within the ultimate, and the identical factor is going on in Qatar, with victories in penalty shootouts over Japan within the final 16 and Brazil within the quarterfinals.

Croatia seemed extra comfy in opposition to Brazil than in opposition to Japan, which exhibits the group is likely to be happier to ask stress and select its moments to interrupt ahead moderately than management video games and be extra vulnerable to the counterattack.

Containing Messi will likely be key and far of the duty there lies with holding midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who protected Croatia’s protection so nicely in opposition to Brazil.

Argentina will likely be with out two gamers due to suspension: left again Marcos Acuña and proper again Gonzalo Montiel. Acuña is the larger miss, having impressed since coming into the group after the loss to Saudi Arabia, and he’s seemingly to get replaced by Nicolás Tagliafico.

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