The 2022 World Cup is now down to its final four. On Tuesday, December 13, at 2:00 pm ET, Lionel Messi and Argentina, who played a contentious thriller vs. the Netherlands that saw benches clear twice, will take on Luka Modric and Croatia, the team that knocked the pre-tournament favorites, Brazil, out of the World Cup on penalties. Now, it’s time to continue our World Cup odds series with an Argentina-Croatia prediction and pick!
Argentina got through a tough game vs. the Netherlands by following a familiar formula for this tournament. The team got one from Messi and one from one of his young teammates (this time, 24-year-old Nahuel Molina). This game added a penalty shootout, though, and just like in the 2021 Copa America, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez came up big and talked trash about it afterward. On the Croatian side, the team once again proved why they are the hardest out in the World Cup for the past four years. Modric’s squad never quit, and a goal by Bruno Petkovic with three minutes left in extra time got the team to a shootout and a win.
In this World Cup odds piece, we will look at the odds of the match, discuss why Argentina could win, how Croatia could win, and then make our picks for this quarterfinals showdown.
Here are the Argentina-Croatia World Cup odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
World Cup Odds: Argentina-Croatia Odds
Over 2.5 Goals: +148
Under 2.5 Goals: -182
Why Argentina Will Beat Croatia
The last time these two teams met in a World Cup was during the Group Stage of the 2018 tournament. In that game, Lionel Messi had big-name players around him like Sergio Aguero and Javier Mascherano, yet the Argentines got worked, 3-0.
This time around, players like Nahuel Molina, Julian Alvarez, Alexis Mac Allister, and Enzo Fernandez might not be household names, but they are playing more like a team than any group Messi has played with for his country.
The formula for Argentina beating Croatia is Messi getting a goal, another young player adding a goal, and then maybe getting a third from someone unexpected. To win this match, Argentina needs to put the score out of reach before the hour mark, or else they could become the latest in line to fall victim to the patented Croatia comeback.
Also, La Albiceleste needs a solid, no-mistakes effort from the backline of Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, and Nicolas Otamendi.
That last piece — no boneheaded plays from Otamendi — will be the most difficult to come by, but to beat Croatia, a team can’t make any mistakes until the final whistle blows. As Brazil showed, even one slip-up 117 minutes into a match can make it all fall apart against this tough and battle-tested Croatia side.
Why Croatia Will Beat Argentina
Croatia wins this game by doing what it’s done for the last 12 World Cup matches it’s played in. They will grind the game down to a slow-paced affair, and if Lionel Messi can break them down with a moment of individual brilliance — like Neymar did last match — no team is less affected by being down than Croatia.
The Eastern European side also needs another incredible performance from Dinamo Zagreb keeper Dominik Livakovic. The 27-year-old stonewalled Brazil throughout the match and continued his dominance on the first penalty of the shootout from Rodrygo.
The easiest way to explain why Croatia will beat Argentina is simply because they find a way to win. It may look a little different each time, but no team other than France in the 2018 final has figured out how to truly put this team away.
If Croatia is within a goal at 80 minutes or beyond, they have to feel like they are the favorites to win at that point.
Final Argentina-Croatia Prediction & Pick
It is incredibly hard to pick against Croatia after what they’ve accomplished in the past two World Cups. In two tournaments, they’ve beaten Nigeria, Argentina, Iceland, Denmark, Russia, England, Canada, Japan, and Brazil, drew with Morocco and Belgium, and lost to France. Not too shabby.
Still — and I can’t believe I’m picking against Croatia again — Lionel Messi is on the other side. He is the best player of this generation and maybe of all time. He finally has a team that compliments him, and the chippy game vs. the Netherlands seems like it truly galvanized this Argentina team.
Argentina, and more specifically Messi, just seem like they are destined to at least make the finals here to write another fascinating chapter of Messi’s legacy. That’s why I see Argentina going to the final on a 3-1 win over Croatia.
Final Argentina-Croatia Prediction & Pick: Argentina (-270); Over 2.5 goals (+148)