2018 FIFA World Cup – Argentina vs Croatia Preview

AT A GLANCE

When? Thursday 21st June, 19:00

Where? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

What channel is it on? BBC1

Where can I stream the match? BBC license holders can stream the match online via BBC iPlayer

Are tickets still available? https://www.ticketbisevents.com/en/group-d-argentina-iceland-croatia-nigeria-tickets/ca5914

THE TEAM NEWS

ARGENTINA

  • Argentina were thwarted by Iceland in their opening match as they were held 1-1 and not helped by star man Messi missing a penalty so the pressure is on them to bounce back immediately and get a win here.
  • Sampaoli will consider changes for this match with and may withdraw the likes of Di Maria, Biglia and Salvio for Mercado, Pavon and Banega. Di Maria especially was on the receiving end of criticism for a poor opening display.
  • Aguero will keep his place up front but Sampaoli has the challenge as to how he can weave the likes of Dybala and Higuain into the side, but the fundamental issue remains that they look vulnerable at the back and in defensive midfield.

Predicted line-up (4-2-3-1):

Caballero

Mercado, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico

Mascherano, Banega

Meza, Messi, Pavon

Aguero

Unavailable: None

Doubtful: None

CROATIA

  • Croatia cantered to victory over Nigeria in their opening match but were nowhere near their best as they have plenty more to offer and will need to put in a better performance here against an Argentine side that will be highly motivated.
  • There has been some fallout in the camp as Nikola Kalinic refused to come on as a sub and he has subsequently been sent home from the camp which is a bold statement from the coach.
  • They may make one defensive switch to bring Badelj back into the side and push Modric into the number ten role with Kramaric making way which is wise against this Argentina side and will allow them to pack the midfield and look to counter at pace.

Predicted line-up (4-2-3-1):

Subasic

Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic

Rakitic, Badelj

Perisic, Modric, Rebic

Mandzukic

Unavailable: N. Kalinic

Doubtful: None

THE PREDICTION

This is a crunch game for Argentina and a tougher one than their first game against Iceland. Croatia may afford them a bit more space, but they also have the greater attacking threat to exploit Argentina's weak defence. Expect goals in a game which could go either way, but do not rule out the Croatians springing a surprise here as the more rounded and balanced of the two teams.