20th of June 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Argentina are looking to bounce back after their opening match when they face Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in FIFA World Cup Group D on Thursday. The two teams have last met at the 1998 World Cup, also in the group stage, and back then Argentina won 1-0. However, Croatia had a great run at that World Cup and eventually grabbed the bronze medals, while Argentina lost in the quarter-finals. The last direct meeting was a friendly match in 2014, which Argentina won 2-1, while in 2006 Croatia got a 3-2 friendly victory over Argentina.
Argentina had a very tough opening match against surprise package Iceland and eventually had to settle for a 1-1 draw. That result leaves them with little options for the remaining two matches, they have to win at least one to have a chance of qualifying and they might have to win both to make absolutely sure they qualify. Head coach Jorge Sampaoli might decide to make some changes in his team after the display against Iceland, Argentina were not that bad in that match but a team with such big names in their ranks should be able to beat pretty much anybody.
Croatia had an easier opening match, they defeated Nigeria 2-0 and dominated the match without looking to make much of an effort. An own-goal opened the scoring in the first half and then Luka Modric settled things with a precise strike from the penalty spot on 71 minutes. A draw against Argentina would put Croatia in a good position ahead of their final group match against Iceland, but victory would make sure they qualify for the next round. There are no injury concerns in the Croatian squad, they will most likely field the same eleven that defeated Nigeria.
Argentina: Caballero - Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico - Salvio, Mascherano, Perez, Acuna - Messi - Pavon, Aguero
Croatia: Subasic - Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic - Rakitic, Brozovic - Perisic, Modric, Rebic - Mandzukic
My prediction: 1-1 draw, Croatia are strong and Argentina will be struggling to find a way past their defence.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Argentina win - 2.04
Draw - 3.40
Croatia win - 4.10
13th of July 2018
I think that was the game which shown that the Croatians will be really one of the strongest sides at this event.
Yeah, they've beat Nigeria 2-0 in their first match but still most of the experts didn't get them too seriously, and despite that the Argentines were far away from the expectations in Russia, it was still a hammer blow of a win that one against one of the pre-tournament favourites.
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