Russia 2018: Match of the day – Argentina vs Croatia preview
Argentina’s Lionel Messi (L) and his teammates take part in a training session in Bronnitsy, near Moscow, on June 20, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group D match against Croatia AFP / JUAN MABROMATA
Teams: Argentina vs Croatia
Venue: Nizhny Novgorod
Lionel Messi missed a penalty in their opening game in Moscow which proved costly as Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw by ‘tiny’ Iceland. Argentina will be looking to recover from their shock draw to record a victory against a confident Croatia in a crucial Group D clash today.
Adding to the sense of disappointment, Messi’s missed penalty was accompanied by 11 unsuccessful shots, the most in a World Cup game without return by a single player since Italy’s Luigi Riva in 1970.
Croatia had their best start in World Cup in 20 years after defeating Nigeria 2-0. Zlato Dalic’s side will approach today’s match with much confidence and positive result against Argentina will allow the Vatreni to take a big step towards the Round of 16.
Sampaoli’s side will come with all force to get all points. The coach might make several changes for the game, among which might be fielding in young forward Cristian Pavon for Angel Di Maria for more creativity up front.
Argentina: Caballero; Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Salvio, Mascherano, Meza, Acuna; Messi, Aguero, Pavon.
Croatia: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Badelj; Brozovic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic.
Did you know?
The runners-up at Brazil 2014, Argentina have now gone three games without a win at the world finals. Their last victory was the 1-0 quarter-final defeat of Belgium four years ago, which was followed by a penalty shoot-out victory over the Netherlands in the semi-finals.