A promising semi-final between Argentina and Croatia… the last chance for Messi and Modric before retirement?

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On Tuesday evening, the first two semi-finals of the World Cup Qatar 2022 will take place between Argentina, runner-up in 2014, and Croatia, runner-up in 2018, at Lusail Stadium in Doha, where the final match will be held on Sunday, with Morocco and France competing for the second card on Wednesday evening at Al-Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor. It is likely that one of the two international stars and captains of the two teams, Lionel and Messi, 35, and Luka Modric, 37, will play their last international match before retiring.

It is likely that football fans have watched the last international match of the legendary Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo, the day after his team’s exit from the World Cup Qatar 2022 at the hands of Morocco, and it is also likely that it will be the last stop in the career of a star. Argentina Lionel Messi or the captain of Croatia Luka Modric On the occasion of the confrontation between their two teams in the semi-finals on Tuesday evening at Lusail Stadium.

Croatia and Argentina in the Qatari Ghutra.. Wednesday, it will be the turn of France and Morocco.  December 13, 2022.
Croatia and Argentina in the Qatari Ghutra.. Wednesday, it will be the turn of France and Morocco. December 13, 2022. © Premium Mzyani

There is no doubt that the competition of the two teams for the passage to the final round will open the way for questions and interpretations about the future of the loser between one of the players, as soon as Italian referee Daniele Orsato blows the final whistle. The main reason is due to the advanced age of Messi (35 years) and Modric (37) and not to another factor, as they are in the best physical and technical condition and both played a prominent role in the arrival of Argentina and Croatia to the golden square in Qatar.

Coach Lionel Scaloni’s players condemn reaching the quarter-finals mainly to the Paris Saint-Germain player, who has scored four goals since the start of the tournament and has assists, and he has become the most player to participate in international matches in the history of South American teams, with 170 matches.

And while many believed, at the end of the first season of “the flea” with Paris Saint-Germain (2021-2022), that his era had passed, he has regained his balance and level since the start of the new season, which is confirmed by the “tango dancers” in the World Cup Qatar.

Messi snatched from his predecessor Diego Maradona the record in terms of the number of goals scored by an Argentine player in the World Cup, with 10 goals and 7 assists, compared to 8 goals and 8 assists for the late star. At the same time, he equaled the record number of goals with the national team, which was held by Gabriel Batistuta.

Messi dazzled football fans during the quarter-final match against the Netherlands with a magical pass that broke the back of the defense and allowed Nahuel Molina to score the lead goal. But the genius player is still running after his first World Cup title, which he seeks to achieve in order to win the hearts of Argentines forever, like Maradona, the hero of the 1986 Mexico epic.

After losing the 2014 final in Brazil to Germany, Messi finds himself facing a simple equation in 2022: either victory over Croatia and moving forward towards the coronation, or farewell and retirement.

For his part, the elderly Luka Modric kept his physical fitness as if he was in the prime of his youth, whether with his club Real Madrid, with whom he won the European Champions League five times, the last of which was last May, or with the Croatian national team, with whom he played in the 2018 World Cup Final in Russia and lost to France 4. -2.

Lukita is an example of play and discipline for his colleagues, although he is not unanimous in the country of four million people because of the close relationship he had with Zdravko Mamic, president of his former club Dynamo Zagreb, who was accused of corruption in 2018 against the backdrop of Modric’s transfer to Tottenham in 2008.

But the man remains one of the most prominent players that Croatia produced alongside Davor Suker, and he will play his 161st international match on Tuesday evening. He was chosen as the best player in the World Cup in Russia and won the Golden Ball award in the same year. He is the pillar of the team and its compass at the time of loss, and plays the torch on the field for his coach Zlatko Dalic.

“The national team must play the match of a lifetime” against Argentina, Modric said Monday in front of reporters, adding: “We have to play the best match in our history” to reach the final, warning against focusing on “one player” in a clear reference to Messi.

Croatia relies on a solid defense and midfield, one of the best we saw in the Qatar World Cup 2022, as he stands alongside the mastermind Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, who used to play strong with Inter Milan, in addition to Mateo Kovacic, a Chelsea player.

And if the Dalic players proved an extraordinary ability to play marathon matches four years ago in Russia, Croatia showed a remarkable ability to shine after the ninety minutes, as it played the extension time three times in Russia, and twice in Qatar, the last of which was against Brazil in the previous round), but the opponent The Argentine will start the match with an extra man, the crowd.

It is expected that about fifty thousand fans will support their team, as well as their sympathizers from the communities present in Qatar. It will also have the field factor as it will play in Lusail for the fourth time since the tournament began.

Therefore, in light of Argentina’s victory or loss, Messi’s international fate or Modric’s future with Croatia will undoubtedly be determined. And whoever loses, the biggest loser will be football due to the genius of both.

Alaoua Miziani, France 24 delegate to Doha

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