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Willy Caballero's clanger presented Ante Rebic with an opportunity he could not refuse, and Croatia rolled on to a stunning 3-0 victory over Argentina that sent them into the last 16 of the World Cup.
Jorge Sampaoli's side produced an abysmal second-half display that severely damages their hopes of following Croatia out of Group D, with Caballero's stray pass to Gabriel Mercado that was volleyed home by Ante Rebic in the 53rd minute proving the turning point.
Any hopes of a late Argentina fightback were extinguished 10 minutes from time as the irrepressible Luka Modric whipped a fine strike into the bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area.
Argentina had all but given up by the closing stages and they were punished further in stoppage time when Ivan Rakitic tapped in from close range with barely a defender in sight.
All eyes were on Lionel Messi before the game after his saved penalty in the South Americans' opening 1-1 draw with Iceland and, once again, he was a shadow of the player that has starred for Barcelona.
Messi cut an isolated figure throughout and was unable to rouse his side in the closing stages, leaving them in danger of needing a win and a swing in goal difference to reach the knockout stages.
Ivan Rakatic with a simple tap in! 3-0 what has happened to Argentina?!
Luca Modric with a beauty! Croatia go 2-0 up! I can't see Argentina coming back from this!
So close! Meza & Messi are denied from close range!
Oh my word! Ante Rebić pounces on a horrible pass from Willy Caballero with a stunning bit of technical skill! 1-0 Croatia.
Enzo Perez misses a golden chance to give Argentina the lead!
Hello! welcome to the Live Updates for Argentina vs Croatia. Will La Albelseleste get their World Cup up and running with a win over Croatia after stuttering in their opening game against Iceland, but they will have a tough test against Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod . Join me for all the updates you need on the big game, including live video highlights and a live stream of the game!
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Argentina will be looking to get their World Cup back on track with a victory against a savvy Croatian side on Thursday evening at Nizhny Novgorod stadium.
La Albiceleste stuttered in their opening game against Iceland, eventually drawing 1-1 with the European side. Much of the headlines were about Leo Messi failing to put his side into the lead from the penalty spot. However, the major concern for Jorge Sampaoli will be his side’s failure to break down a side who sat so deep in the game.
Much has been made of Sampaoli’s failure to put on Juventus man Paulo Dybala in the first game. The 24-year old is unlikely to start against Croatia, but certainly expect the playmaker to be called upon if Argentina struggles again.
Sergio Agüero opened up his account in Russia with a fearsome strike against Iceland, and the Manchester City striker is likely to spearhead the attack on Thursday. With Leo Messi likely to be man-marked during the game, Agüero’s eye for goal will be important is Argentina is to come away with the victory.
Argentina Predicted Team
Caballero; Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Salvio, Mascherano, Meza, Acuna; Messi, Aguero, Pavon.
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TV Channel- MAX HD3
Stadium- Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
Croatia put in a professional display to get the better of Nigeria 2-0 in their opening Group D game. Zlatko Dalić’s side had a slightly disrupted buildup for the game as striker Nikola Kalinić was sent home for being a reluctant substitute in the opening game.
A shock victory for the Croatians will all but seal their place in the knockout rounds. The European side looked brilliant at times against Nigeria, keeping possession well and controlling the pace of the content.
The midfield pairing of Ivan Rakitić & Luca Modric will be crucial if Croatia is to pull off the win. Both players play at the highest level of club football, playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Their work rate and passing ability will be vital if Croatia is to halt the influence of Leo Messi.
Croatia Predicted Team
Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Badelj; Brozovic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic.
It promises to be an interesting tie as Argentia will be looking to pick up their first victory at the 2018 World Cup, but will face a tough test against an experienced Croatia side. Watch the Live & Exclusive stream of the game on MAX HD3 & beIN SPORTS CONNECT.