Argentina vs Croatia Preview: South Americans desperate for win after poor opening showing

Argentina vs Croatia Preview: South Americans desperate for win after poor opening showing

The Vatreni will be looking to send La Albieceleste out of the tournament at the first hurdle whilst Messi looks to find his shooting boots.

alexander-ford
Alexander Ford

Argentina and Croatia will both meet on Thursday evening at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in contrasting fashion and will both looking to try and give themselves a better chance of qualifying for the first knockout round.

La Albiceleste were held to Iceland with a 1-1 draw and will be desperate to get the three points against the Eastern European nation as Lionel Messi will be looking to shake off the poor performance he had against the Scandinavians in the first tie.

The Vatreni are in pole position of Group D at the moment, having come out victorious against Nigeria and will feel there is no better time to take on the South Americans than the present. The Croats will know any kind of positive result against the Argies will give them a great chance of reaching the next stage of the tournament.

Changes to be made for Argentina

Jorge Sampoli’s side could see a number of changes be made following their disappointing showing last week against Iceland, which could include personnel and tactics.

The Argentines are expected to try and inject some pace into the team and could see Marcus Acuna and Cristian Pavon come into the starting line-up, with Angel Di Maria and Lucas Biglia heading out of the starting eleven.

Sergio Aguero is expected to keep his place up front alongside Messi, having scored their only goal in the previous tie, although Sampoli could opt for either Pablo Dybala or Gonzalo Higuain.

The Manchester City striker's goal meant he has scored in each of his last four appearances for La Albiceleste

Predicted Starting XI: Caballero; Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Salvio, Mascherano, Meza, Acuna; Messi, Aguero, Pavon.

Do Croatia change things or keep it the same?

Croatia will be looking to continue their fine form, however, recent training sessions have suggested that Zlatko Dalic could be ready to make changes to his starting 11.

He decided to use four midfielders during the game with the African nation, however, he may decide to use fewer in the middle of the park, or whether they will make it compact like Iceland decided to do.

The Croatians will not be a side that Argentina can look past easily, with a number of their players at clubs at the top level of some of the European leagues.

Luka Modric will be looking to be the creative spark for the Europeans, whilst Mario Mandzukic will be hoping to get his goalscoring tally off the mark.

Predicted Starting XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic. Badelj; Brozovic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic.

Background

The two countries have met just four times in their history with the South Americans edging the contests with two wins to Croatia’s one, with the other ending in a draw.

Argentina did defeat the European’s in a World Cup group match once before, back in 1998, however, both sides were already through to the last 16 at the stage and the result meant they would top the group.

Argentina have only lost one match in their last 16 group matches, which came back in the 2002 World Cup to England, having won 12 of those games since.

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