Argentina is targeting their first win of the Russia World Cup 2018 when they will face against Croatia in the Group D match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Thursday. La Albiceleste were stopped to a stalemate by Iceland in the round one match that made this match against the table toppers Croatia crucial for Sampaoli brigade. On the other side, Luka Modrić and his Croatian lads are enjoying their top position and taking the much tougher Leo Messi lead Argentines a bit easier after they cruised pass Nigeria with a 2-0 win.
: 21st June
: 11:30 (IST)
: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
● TV BROADCAST
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● LIVE STREAMING
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● TEAM NEWS
Sampaoli named his starting XI for Iceland the day before Argentina’s opening game, although is yet to reveal his chosen line-up for this meeting.
He has never used the same XI twice during his time in charge of the country and Cristian Pavon could make his competitive debut.
• Injury- Nil
Croatia will be without Nikola Kalinic, who was sent home after reportedly refusing to come on as a substitute against Nigeria, with a back injury cited as the reason. Dalic has said he will make some changes.
• Injury/Unavailable – Nikola Kalinic
● PROBABLE STARTING XI
• Formation: 4-2-3-1
Caballero – Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico – Mascherano, Lo Celso – Dybala, Messi, Di Maria – Aguero.
• Head Coach: Jorge Sampaoli
• Formation: 4-2-3-1
Subasic – Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic – Rakitic, Modric – Perisic, Kramaric, Rebic – Mandzukic.
• Head Coach: Zlatko Dalic
● RECENT FORM
Argentina’s draw against Iceland when Messi missed a penalty and subsequently failed to sway the game in his side’s favour, gave further boost to the notion that the Albiceleste are just an egg shell when the Barcelona star is off his game.
Croatia is in good shape after defeating Nigeria in the first game with their captain’s fantastic brace. This full point has definitely pumped up the reds as they dwell the top of the group table and are confident enough to face the mighty Argentines.
● MANAGER’S QUOTES
“When Argentina don’t win, we attribute responsibility to Leo. I think that’s too easy a way for Argentinians to think,” Sampaoli said.
“There were lots of factors of irritation for not winning against Iceland. There are 40 of us at this World Cup. The team will be together when things go well and when things go badly.”
However, Croatia coach Zlatko Dali says his side have “nothing to lose”.
“The match against Argentina is the easiest game for us at the World Cup because we have three points and we play against a big opponent,” he said.
“We have nothing to lose in that game. I’ll tell my players before the start of the game just to enjoy the spectacle.”
● WRITER’S TAKE
This match is very crucial for Argentina to make themselves to the round of 16. As they got stunted by Iceland in the first match, Messi will surely come back harder this time and this match is predicted to gift one of the best football matches of this World Cup. Whereas the Croatian brigade who are boasting arguably their greatest squad since the country’s inception are showing confidence enough on a mission to stop Messi from getting chances. But it will be tougher this time to stop the Latin American giants as Sampaoli plans to get back to the field with all his might. It’s also a game for them to show the world one more time what they are.