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World Cup semi-final predictions

How might Argentina vs. Croatia and France vs. Morocco unfold?

Netherlands v Argentina: Quarter Final - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The semi-final matches are set for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

After a pair of thrilling quarter-final matches on Friday, Argentina is set to square off with Croatia on one side of the bracket. Will Lionel Messi continue his trek towards his “impossible dream?” Or will Croatia get back to the World Cup Final after their run in 2018?

On the other side of the bracket, France is back in the semi-finals after a victory over England in a clash of the titans on Saturday. Will Les Bleus get back to the World Cup Finals, or will Morocco crash the party, continuing their dream story in Qatar?

Here are our staff predictions for how the semi-finals will unfold.

Croatia vs. Argentina

Perhaps I am a sucker for storylines. But watching Argentina hold on, and advance, over the Netherlands makes me believe that the universe is going to find a way to deliver Lionel Messi to his first World Cup title. Since an opening-match shocker to Saudi Arabia, Argentina has won four-straight matches, and found their offensive footing. Letting the Netherlands back into the match in the late stages of their meeting might give them enough of a wake-up call to see them through to the Final. As for Croatia, they are certainly tested, having reached the Final in 2018 and having stormed back against Brazil. But again, I am a sucker for storylines. Argentina advances. - Mark Schofield

Croatia were the Cinderella story at the 2018 World Cup, but it might be safe to say by now that they’re actually just a really good team who know how to win at tournaments. Argentina are another team who just make themselves tough to beat, and have another compelling aging superstar in GOAT candidate Lionel Messi. He and Luka Modric have been two personal favorites to watch, and both play the vital role of playmaker in a match that could be as feisty as Argentina’s last match. Expect a fight in the form of a football match. Both teams are undeniably tough, but Argentina seem the team of destiny. They win 2-1 after extra time. - Colin Damms

I don’t think Croatia are Cinderellas anymore. The Croatian team is tough, smart and with Luka Modric in the midfield they can strike at any moment. The joke is you don’t want to go into extra time with the Croatian team, but seriously don’t do it. They will rip your heart out. Argentina on the other hand just feels like the team to beat. Lisandro Martinez is playing at a high level and the other players for Argentina are playing well right now. Oh, they also have Lionel Messi, he seems pretty good. I think Croatia fights hard in this one, but Argentina moves on to the final. Argentina 2-1. - J.P. Acosta

Destiny vs. Luck seems to be the storyline in this semi-final. Lionel Messi is two wins away from cementing his legacy. Meanwhile, Croatia seem to have every ounce of good fortune on their side. Which force will be stronger? It feels like it’s time for Croatia’s black magic to run out and Messi to get one last shot at his World Cup title. This Argentina side has something special about it and they are hungrier than ever to propel their leader to fulfill his destiny. Enzo Fernandez bangs in another wondergoal and Messi adds a late penalty. Argentina advances. - Rob Usry

It’s hard not to root for Argentina in this seminal. As a 22-year-old, Lionel Messi has been synonymous with the sport the entire time I’ve followed it. In a lot of ways, he IS the sport due to what he’s done in the game. But there’s one trophy he has yet to lift. Myself and countless others around the world will lean towards Argentina advancing solely because of Messi, but that won’t matter when the 22 players step across the white line. Croatia clearly isn’t a pushover. You can’t be if you make it this far in a World Cup. Their technically brilliant squad, encapsulated by the ageless wonder that is Luka Modric, will do all they can to make a repeat appearance in the final. Both teams had to go through a penalty shootout to reach this point, but Croatia clearly has the edge in that aspect. Lionel Messi’s Argentina will go through 3-1. - Kyle Soto

Narratives are fun and strong and all of that, but you know who doesn’t care about them? Croatia. This is a team that made it to the World Cup finals last time, won their qualifying group during this cycle, have lost just once in all of 2022, were publicly disrespected by Canada of all teams and somehow don’t seem to be the favorites no matter who they play. They just keep chugging along. This is a country with less than 4 million people but a roster that is made up almost entirely of players from the best leagues in the world. They are playing with house money at this point. Don’t count them out. Croatia wins in penalties after tying 1-1 in regulation. - Jeremiah Oshan

France vs. Morocco

France again looked so explosive and clinical on the attack Saturday in dispatching England. Aurélien Tchouaméni’s right-footed rocket opened the scoring, and Olivier Giroud continued his stretch of good play, as his header was the difference against England. Oh, and they still have Kylian Mbappé, whose five goals put him just ahead of Giroud in the race for the Golden Boot. Still, while there is something magical about this Moroccan side, there is perhaps something even more important: A near-impenetrable defense. Morocco has yet to concede a goal from an opposing player during this World Cup, and having held both Spain and Portugal scoreless in their past two matches, I look for that to continue. I might be alone on this one, but Morocco advances. - Mark Schofield

Morocco have stolen hearts at this World Cup, and justifiably so. Their style of play reflects their passion, and it’s matched by the support of their traveling fans as well as locals. They play as a team, and as a result have made themselves nearly impossible to break down. France on the other hand are vibing their way through the tournament, and it’s working. Their abundance of attacking talent has come through in games that have tested them, notably against England, where they landed knockout blows despite being pinned back for much of the contest. Morocco have shown they have real quality, but Les Bleus have too much quality. France win 2-0. - Colin Damms

We all know what this match will look like, but the question is, what will the end result be? France’s high-octane attack vs. Morocco’s bend but don’t break counter-attack. While the African side has done a tremendous job of silencing some of Europe’s best on their journey to the semis, France are just too talented to be kept off the scoresheet. Morocco will stand tall and tough but eventually give way to the French onslaught. If they concede early, it could get ugly. Olivier Giroud is inevitable and will get on the end of a cross to open the floodgates. France advances. - Rob Usry

I love what Morocco is doing in this tournament. They’ve stuck to their plan, countering at proper times and capitalizing on mistakes. The question is if France will allow them to hang around. Kylian Mbappe is playing like the best footballer in the world, and the French are getting great team play across the board. I worry about Morocco’s offensive attack if France forces the issue early, because if Olivier Giroud gets one through the net, the floodgates could open. France advances. - J.P. Acosta

Morocco has made history during this World Cup, but I unfortunately think their journey ends here. France is just too good, too deep, and they have Kylian Mbappe. Even when Mbappe isn’t able to play at his absolute best, other players such as Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud can step up to push France into the final. Even though France didn’t play that well against England, they found a way to win. Morocco has played exceptionally throughout this World Cup and has shown what is possible if you play to your strengths. If Morocco does that, there’s a chance we could see the first African nation in the World Cup final. France advances 3-1. - Kyle Soto

With the prospect of the world being treated to Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe facing off in a World Cup final wouldn’t be kinda hilarious if we got Croatia vs. Morocco instead? Don’t discount the possibility. While Croatia is ruthless, I think Morocco is a getting overlooked a bit as well. The Atlas Lions are 7-0-2 since losing to the United States in June and changing coaches relatively soon thereafter. That includes an impressive 3-0-2 record at the World Cup with wins over Belgium, Spain and Portugal. A win over France would make for a very impressive Risk board. Morocco wins 1-0. - Jeremiah Oshan