Argentina will be hoping to bounce back from a poor performance against Iceland in their second game of the tournament against Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod. As Group D remains wide open, a victory in this game will be paramount for both sides.
Argentina’s status as World Cup hopefuls hang in the balance after their opening game. The South Americans had to settle for a draw against fan-favourites Iceland as a frustrating match resulted in only a single point. Despite the abundance of attacking options available to the side, they couldn’t break down the Icelandic defense.
They dominated the possession and passing game, however this was negated mainly by their somehow incompetent attacking force. In particular, talisman Lionel Messi seemed to be non-existent throughout the match. The only contribution he made to their game was a missed penalty, being completely invisible for the remainder of the fixture.
Croatia face tough Argentina challenge
A good result against Croatia is more important than ever after this. This team holds all the pieces to become a world-beating team. Now, the players just need to find chemistry with each other.
Croatia enjoyed a comfortable opening match to their World Cup Campaign. They dominated Nigeria all over the pitch, enjoying a well deserved victory. Predictably, their loaded midfield corps shone throughout the game. Furthermore, captain Luka Modric gave a solid performance, reflecting his position at the forefront of passing midfielders.
Overall, however, they exhibited strength in every area of the pitch. Being the only side of Group D to gain a win in their first match, Croatia now sit atop the group, and would all but secure their qualification with a win here.
Some controversy has surrounded Croatia recently, however. Striker Nikola Kalinic was sent home from the tournament after he refused to come on in their World Cup opener. The striker cited a back injury as the reason for this. This leaves Croatia with only twenty-two players in their squad. This may become a problem if the side suffers any injuries.
The result of this game fully depends on the state of the Argentine squad. If they return from their previous game at full force, this game may swing either way. If, however, they replicate the form seen against Iceland, it would not be surprising to see a loss for the South Americans- which could end their tournament. Ultimately, I can see a draw being the likely result here. I predict a scoreline of 1-1.