The Group D definitely can be called the “Group of Death”, especially after the first round, in which Iceland played draw with Argentina. This was a big shock for Messi and the boys, particularly because their best player missed a penalty in that match.
If they want to advance to the Round of 16 from the top position, Argentina will have to go for a win against Croatia on Thursday evening in Nizhny Novgorod. Croatia will probably take the same approach as Iceland and try to hit Argentina on the break.
There’s no doubt that Messi is one of the best players in football history, but after a disappointing result against Iceland, people have started questioning his authority. It seems that he’s the guy who’s in charge of picking the team, not the team manager, Jorge Sampaoli.
Argentina would probably do much better if they realized that they’re not a one-man team. They have plenty of amazing players, especially in the attack, so there’s no reason to send the ball to Messi every time they go forward. After all, the opposition is likely to be focused on marking him, so why not play the ball to another forward?
Actually, that’s probably what Argentina will do against Croatia. They’re going to try a different approach, where more players are involved in the attack. And this time, we’re probably going to see the starting eleven made only of experienced players, meaning that there’s no room for Meza, Pavon, and the like.
We might also see Argentina playing with two players in the final third. Apart from Aguero, who’s a ‘false nine’, we will probably see Higuain in the attack as well. Messi and Di Maria should be just behind the two.
With so many great players in the team, Croatia definitely seem capable of finishing the group stage on the top of the table. They even seem powerful enough to beat Argentina on Tuesday, as every part of their game seems impressive, which isn’t the case with their next opponent.
Although they seem powerful in every position on the pitch, their strongest point seems to be their midfield. And that’s not a surprise, considering that that’s the part of the pitch where Real Madrid’s Modric and Barcelona’s Rakitic play.
In the first round, Croatia beat Nigeria by 2:0, although both teams had plenty of chances. But, Croatia proved to be more lethal. In this match, they also showed how great they are defensively. They did very well against pacey Nigeria forwards, which gives their fans a lot of hope that they can do the same against Argentina.
The biggest concern for their fans is that there are rumors about low morale of some of their players. The atmosphere in the locker-room isn’t great, especially after the manager Zlatko Dalic sent the forward Nikola Kalinic home. Officially, it’s because of an injury, but everyone’s saying that the real reason is that Kalinic refused to come in as a substitute just a few minutes before the end of the match with Nigeria.
Caballero – Rojo, Otamendi, Ansaldi, Tagliafico – Mascherano, Banega, Di Maria – Messi, Aguero, Higuain
Subasic – Lovren, Vida, Vrsaljko, Strinic – Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic – Perisic, Rebic, Mandzukic
Argentina vs. Croatia Match Prediction
Unless Argentina win this match, they can say goodbye to the first spot in the Group D. And if they finish as runner-ups, it would mean that they would have to play against the winner of the Group C, which will probably be France.
That said, Argentina will have to go for a win against Croatia, but that’s not going to be easy. Croatia are a stronger team that Iceland, so anything can happen in this game. For that reason, betting on goals seems like a better choice than putting money on the outcome. We’re likely to see more than two goals here.
Argentina vs. Croatia Betting Tips
- Over 2.5 Goals @2.30 (Unibet)