32 came, only four remain. With the semi-finals now upon us, we know that the winner of the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be one of defending champions France, surprise package Morocco, Argentina, and 2018 finalists Croatia. In their bid to become the first nation to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962, Les Bleus just about did enough to edge out England in the quarter-finals, aided by a late penalty miss from Three Lions captain Harry Kane, who had earlier converted from the spot. The big story, for the romantics, at least, surrounds Morocco. Their 1-0 victory against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal means they are the first African national to ever make it to the World Cup semi-finals and indeed the first Arab nation to do so. Their hugely impressive defensive record – they’ve conceded just one own goal in five matches – means they should be in no way underestimated in the last four.
La Albiceleste and the Croats both progressed to semi-finals via tense penalty shootouts, with the latter eliminating the mighty Brazil, many people’s favourites to win the tournament. The Argentinians’ topsy-turvy clash with the Netherlands wasn’t an especially great spectacle in a pure footballing sense but will be remembered for the hostility between the two teams – and referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz – as the match went on.
Incredibly, the Spanish match official dished out EIGHTEEN yellow cards in that quarter-final clash, including one for Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni and three after the deciding penalty shootout, two of which were shown to Dutch right-back Denzel Dumfries. The most significant bookings, however, were picked up by Argentina defenders Marcos Acuña and Gonzalo Montiel.
Which players are suspended for the World Cup semi-finals?
After missing the shock opening defeat to Saudi Arabia, Acuña has started every game at left-back but will not feature in Tuesday’s semi-final against Croatia; his yellow card against the Netherlands was his second in the competition, incurring a one-match suspension. Montiel is in the same position although his absence will probably be less felt, as he is behind Nicolás Otamendi, Cristián Romero and Lisandro Martínez in the pecking order to play in central defence. The only other player set to miss the semi-finals through suspension is Morocco’s Walid Cheddira, who won’t be able to feature against France after being sent off in the quarter-finals.
What are the sanctions for the World Cup final?
Now that we have reached the semi-final stage, all yellow cards from previous rounds have been wiped (which Argentina will be especially thankful for considering how many of them they received in the win against the Dutch). That means that any player booked in the semi-finals will not be in danger of missing the World Cup final. The only way that can happen is if a player receives a red card (straight or two yellows) in the final four.
When do the Qatar 2022 World Cup semi-finals take place?
13 December: Lusail Stadium: Argentina vs Croatia 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT (SF1)
14 December: Al Bayt Stadium: France vs Morocco 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT (SF2)
When is the World Cup Third Place play-off?
17 December: Khalifa International: Loser SF1-Loser SF2 10:00 am ET / 07:00 am PT
When is the World Cup final?
18 December: Lusail Stadium: Winner SF1-Winner SF2 10:00 am ET / 07:00 am PT