The Argentina national team battled against Croatia in their 2022 FIFA World Cup Semifinal matchup, and in the end, the reigning Copa America champions prevailed with a 3-0 win.
For just the second time at the 2022 World Cup, Argentina did not win the possession battle. La Albiceleste finished with a 31 percent possession mark against Croatia — its lowest at this edition of the World Cup.
According to Lionel Messi, this was all part of the game plan, as Argentina was well aware that Croatia often leaves behind a bulk of space after losing possession of the ball.
“I believe that this group is very, very intelligent that knows how to read the moments of each match,” Messi said during his post-match press conference.
“Very intelligent group that knows how to suffer when it has to suffer and knows how to have the ball when they have to have it, knows when to press when it is necessary to retreat. … As I said just today, we knew that the match was going to go the way it did in this manner, and that’s why we didn’t get desperate when we had to run because we knew that the strength of theirs is to have a lot of possession, but we also knew that it could be a strength of ours as well when we were recovering because they can be very disorganized their three midfielders to get the ball, and they left a lot of space.”
Argentina ended up making the most out of its game plan for the contest, tallying five more shots on target than Croatia, including one on a solo Julian Alvarez counter-attack in the first half that culminated in the Manchester City forward scoring the second goal of the match.
For now, Argentina will watch the upcoming semifinal clash between France and Morocco to see who it will meet in the World Cup final.