After failing to win their first game against Iceland, Argentina absolutely needs a victory today if they must stay in the competition.
Argentina and Croatia will face each other in one of the second Group D games at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium today June 21, 2018. Today’s encounter will be crucial as it will determine the future of both teams in the competition. The “group of death” as it is called, will draw the attention of the world.
All eyes will be on Argentina’s star player, Lionel Messi. Even though Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw in their first outing against Iceland, it is believed that the game was a wake-up call for them as such they will be leaving nothing to chance. With only one point to their credit Argentina must win today if they have to stay in the competition.
A win against Croatia will put them on top of the classification table with four points while a defeat will bring them near elimination. Coach Jorge Sampaoli is reportedly considering abandoning the 4-2-3-1 line up used against Iceland in favour of a 3-4-3 system. Boca Juniors winger, Cristian Pavon, could start his first competitive game, while Gabriel Mercado and Marcos Acuna may also earn recalls.
Croatia are tipped to be the best in the group with three points after they beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-0 in their first outing. Like Argentina, Croatia's strength is going forward, and they have quality in midfield too. Croatia’s best performance at the World Cup was in 1998 in France where they reached the semi-finals. Since then they have failed to make it out of the group stage.
This time the Croatians will be out to win their second game in order to maintain their leadership position in the group and even go beyond the first round. Coach Dalic will be counting on players like Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic to realise their dream.
Croatia have never lost their second group game at a World Cup conceding just one goal in four matches. Croatia, who will reach the last 16 should they win are without Nikola Kalinic, the striker was sent home after refusing to come on as a substitute against Nigeria, citing a back problem.