Argentina captain Lionel Messi will be key in the semi-final.© AFP
Argentina star Lionel Messi equalled Lothar Matthaus’ record for the most World Cup appearances with his 25th start in Tuesday’s semi-final against Croatia. Midfielder Leandro Paredes and defender Nicolas Tagliafico were brought into Argentina’s starting line-up. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni drafted in Tagliafico in place of the suspended left-back Marcos Acuna and Paredes took the spot of centre-half Lisandro Martinez. The switch means Argentina are likely to revert to four at the back rather than the five-man defence with advanced wing-backs that they used in the penalty shoot-out win over the Netherlands.
Scaloni sticked with the same forward line he operated against the Dutch with Messi playing behind Julian Alvarez. Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic named an unchanged team to the one which beat Brazil on penalties in the last eight with Andrej Kramaric starting as the central striker.
Forward Bruno Petkovic, whose late goal in extra-time forced the game into a penalty shoot-out, starts on the bench again.
Argentina (4-4-2) – Emiliano Martinez; Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico; Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister; Lionel Messi (capt), Julian Alvarez
Coach: Lionel Scaloni (ARG)
Croatia (4-3-3) – Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric (capt), Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Mario Pasalic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic
Coach: Zlatko Dalic (CRO)
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