Argentina fans celebrate in Qatar advancing to the semi-finals of the World Cup (Reuters)
* Lionel Messi scored his first goal in Argentina's uniform on March 1, 2006, in a friendly match in which his team lost 3:2 to Croatia in Basel.
Luka Modric then made his international debut.
16 and a half years have passed, and the two meet tonight as captains in the semi-finals of the World Cup.
* Messi registers his 25th appearance in the World Cup and thereby equals the record of the German Luther Mathews.
If he makes it to the finals, it will be the new record.
* Modric is the fourth player ever to start six World Cup games aged 37 or over.
He was preceded by the Brazilian defender Nilton Santos in 1962 and the Italian goalkeepers Dino Zoff in 1982 and the English Peter Shelton in 1990.
* To date, Messi and Modric have met 26 times in all competitions, with the advantage of the Croatian with 9:12 wins and five more draws.
Twice he did it with the national team, while for the Argentine all the victories were in groups.
Will he get to break another record?
Lionel Messi (Photo: Reuters)
* The two teams have met five times in the past, when each won twice and another game ended in a draw.
* Out of the five meetings, two were within the World Cup.
In 1998, Argentina won 0:1 in the group stage with a goal by defender Mauricio Pineda, but 20 years later revenge came, when Croatia celebrated an impressive 0:3 in the previous World Cup in Russia.
Modric then scored the second goal.
* A total of seven players in the current semifinal also started the meeting in 2018: Messi, Tagliafico and Otamendi from Argentina, compared to Modric, Perisic, Brozovic and Luvren from Croatia.
* Paredes and de Paul make their 50th appearances for Argentina.
Otamendi will celebrate his 100th game in the final (at best) or in the third place match (at worst).
* Messi scored against Croatia in two friendlies and currently in Qatar he has four goals and two assists, along with three man of the match awards.
* Argentina has never lost in a World Cup semi-final.
Five times she reached this status and in all of them she continued to the final: in 1978 and 1986 she also lifted the world cup, in 1930, 1990 and of course in 2014 she lost.
* On the other hand, this is Croatia's third time in the semi-finals: in 1998 they lost to France 2:1 and settled for third place, while in 2018 they beat England in the semis with 0:2 in overtime and then lost 4:2 to France in the final.
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