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Argentina vs Croatia
2018 FIFA World Cup, Group D
|Nizhy Novgorod Stadium|
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Argentina are on the verge of being sensationally knocked out during the group stage of the 2018 World Cup following a 3-0 defeat to Croatia.
Both sides started off the game looking dangerous in attack and awful in defence.
There were defensive mistakes left, right and centre in the first half – leading to some incredible chances for both sides.
Enzo Perez found himself with an open goal after some miscommunication in Croatia’s box, but somehow hit the ball wide.
Then almost immediately after Mario Mandzukic had a header from point-blank range and somehow managed to direct it away from goal.
The intensity was also high and there was no love lost between the two sides.
There were many late challenges that were rough in the first half – but just the one yellow card.
Ante Rebic’s studs up foul saw him get the card – but it easily could have been a red.
It was perhaps the feistiest first half of football we have seen so far this World Cup, and it ended scoreless.
The defensive frailties of both sides were further highlighted in the second half – but it was Argentina who was punished.
An awful pass from keeper Willy Caballero gifted Rebic a goal to put Croatia in the lead.
From there Argentina were in desperation mode, with the manager brining on Gonzalo Higuain and Crisitan Pavon in a bid to get a goal back.
He then also brought on Paulo Dybala as Argentina looked to utilise all of their attacking talent in a desperate attempt to get something out of the game.
However it was Croatia that had the moment of magic, as a stunning Luka Modric strike put the Croats ahead by two with less than ten minutes left in the game.
It soon reached boiling point, with Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi kicking the ball into Ivan Rakitic and started a melee.
Otamendi was lucky to escape with a yellow although there could be retrospective punishment coming his way.
In the end Argentina could not get anything out of the game and their fate in this World Cup is well and truly out of their hands.
While Croatia added salt in the wound with a late third goal for Rakitic.
Argentina are looking to put a disappointing result behind as they search for their first win of the 2018 World Cup against Croatia. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 4am AEST.
Argentina entered the competition tipped to go a long way.
However, their first game against Iceland showed that they may struggle to get out of the group stage – let alone be a contender to win the tournament.
Sergio Aguero opening the score for Argentina but some sloppy defending allowed Iceland to level moments later.
Lionel Messi had 11 shots at goal but failed to convert any of his chances as they a drew a game everyone expected them to win.
With Cristiano Ronaldo setting the cup on fire with four goals in two games, there seems to be more pressure on Messi to carry his team and prove he can perform on an international stage.
He will be the key man for Argentina – like he always is.
Croatia will go into the match full of confidence, coming off a 2-nil win over Nigeria in their opening fixture.
It took an own-goal and a Luka Modric penalty to seal the points for the Croats but they aren’t short on attacking threats.
The towering presence of Marko Madzukic will be looking to give an ageing Argentinian defence a lot of trouble.
Croatia arguably have the stronger side and are on form, but Argentina have Lionel Messi who can change any game at a moments notice. They need him to find form if they are to get anything out of this one.
Argentina 1 -1 Croatia
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