Jorge Sampaoli’s side clearly did not have the ideal start to their World cup campaign as they only managed to draw with a comparatively less star studded Icelandic side. Whereas the opponents that they’ll be facing today, Croatia kicked the tournament off with a solid 2-0 win against Nigeria.
A lot of weight is on the shoulders of the Argentinian star, Messi, as everybody is expecting him to be a big threat to the Croatian defense despite not being able to perform up to the mark for his side’s opening World cup match.
Ahead of the match, Kovacic told reporters, “We do not need to be too afraid of Argentina. We are singularly better than them, except Messi, and so we should behave, look at ourselves, not others.”
While the Croatian side seem optimistic about containing Messi, Paulo Dybala believes he can play alongside ‘the best player in the world’ as he was benched in the previous match. On Tuesday, he stated in a news conference, “Messi does not have any substitute here, in Barcelona or anywhere in the world. So obviously I think we could work together.”
Croatia as compared to Argentina gave an impressive performance against Nigeria with a 2-0 win. However, despite facing a tougher opponent in Argentina and the incident with Nikola Kalinic, the Croatian coach, Zlatko Dali said his side has ‘nothing to lose’. Kalinic, 30-year-old Ac Milan striker, is no longer a part of the squad and was told to go home due to a back injury.
He said, “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. We have nothing to lose in that game. I’ll tell my players before the start of the game just to enjoy the spectacle.”
The show down between Argentina and Croatia will take place at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The capacity of the stadium is 45,000, including 902 seats for low-mobility groups of people together with accompanying persons.
Predicted XI for Argentina
Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero
Defenders: Eduardo Salvio, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico
Midfielders: Maximiliano Meza, Javier Mascherano; Lucas Biglia, Lionel Messi, Cristian Pavon
Forwards: Sergio Aguero
Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Aguero
Predicted XI for Croatia
Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic
Defenders: ; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic
Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric; Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic.
Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic