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Croatia vs Nigeria
2018 FIFA World Cup, Group D
|Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad|
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Croatia have taken advantage of a surprising slip up by Argentina to sit atop World Cup Group D thanks to an own goal and a penalty, beating Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Oghenekaro Etebo the unlucky Nigerian scoring the own goal to open the scoring just after the half-hour mark at the Kaliningrad Stadium.
Croatia were not troubled in large by the Nigerians, despite the Nigerians having more shots on goal, and when William Troost-Ekong was whistled for grabbing and impeding Mandzukic while defending a corner, Luka Modric converted the penalty to extend Croatia’s lead to 2-nil.
While Nigeria forced some saves from the Croatian keeper, but the three points were wrapped up somewhat easily.
We come to match No.8 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as perennial participants Croatia and Nigeria meet in this Group D clash. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 5am (AEST).
There is a lot to like about Group D in this World Cup that, aside from the Messi-led Argentina, is a relatively open group.
For Croatia and nigeria, it is a rematch of their 2014 World Cup matchup in Brazil, which the Croatians won comfortably.
Croatia ultimately went the lengthy route in qualifying for Russia, having finished second in their group.
However, having been grouped with Belgium, replete with their golden generation, Croatia’s loss to Belgium was the only defeat they suffered, and ultimately the Croatians had little trouble knocking over Greece in the second round to qualify for this tournament.
Croatia have brought a high calibre squad to Russia, with the likes of hardened European competitors in Dejan Lovren, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, and Mario Mandzukic.
The big name, however, is one Luka Modric, fresh off a commanding season for Real Madrid, and that little matter of a third consecutive Champions League winners’ medal.
As for Nigeria, the Super Eagles? Well, they will undoubtedly like their chances, having themselves successfully navigated their path to Russia via a tricky route that included Cameroon.
It is actually easy to forget that Nigeria have a rich history at the world cup, and were it not for some Baggio magic back in 1994, they would have found themselves in a quarter final against a fragile Spain, and anything could have happened.
The African nation themselves bring a fairly high calibre of player, with Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, John Obi Mikel.
Iwobi is something of an enigma, as he is a polarising (at best) individual with his club sides Arsenal’s fans, but put that green Nigerian jersey on, and he turns into African Messi.
Nigeria are also coming off a solid pre-tournament warm up, having pushed England all the way at Wembley, so the occasion certainly shouldn’t get the better of these super eagles.
I was originally going to tip a draw between these sides, but upon further reflection, the quality of Croatia really should be too much for the Nigerians.
Despite the passion and skill that Nigeria will present, the Europeans should have the experience to get the job done here.
Croatia 2 – Nigeria 1.
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