Eight years after narrowly losing to Germany in the 2014 final, Argentina is back in the championship after demolishing Croatia in a 3-0 victory.
Lionel Messi put on a show in what may be his final World Cup and got the scoring party started after just 34 minutes. The Argentine superstar struck a hard left-footed shot from the penalty spot after teammate Julián Álvarez drew a foul from Croatia's keeper Dominik Livaković inside the box. Five minutes later, Álvarez put La Albiceleste up 2-0 on a fierce counter that might have made the late Diego Maradona proud. The ball favorably bounced to him on two occasions as Croatia's defenders carelessly failed to clear it, leaving Alvarez to poke the ball into the net.
By the 69th minute mark, Messi, who holds the record for the most assists in soccer history, would add to his historic record with a memorable assist as he fought off highly-rated Croatian defender Joško Gvardiol and centered the ball in front of the six-yard box where Álvarez set himself up to strike it into the net for a 3-0 lead and an eventual ticket to the final.
Croatia looked deflated for the remaining minutes as the Argentine supporters sang their way to the final whistle. The win sets the stage for a highly-anticipated final. Argentina will take on the winner of the France versus Morocco match.
The French are favored to win it as they seek their second World Cup championship in four years but Argentina will still have memories of their 4-2 loss in the 2018 quarterfinals against the title-holders.
The next semi-final match is set for Wednesday with the final round slated for Sunday.