By Anis Bazza
Last Updated: 21st June 2018
Argentina are still searching for their first win at the World Cup. Both sides are fairly matched at 11/5 to draw.
Croatia cruised past Nigeria on Saturday while Argentina succumbed to a frustrating draw against Iceland which saw Lionel Messi fluff his lines at the penalty spot.
Nigeria and Iceland meet tomorrow looking to capitalise on any slip-ups from this fixture.
Team news – Sampaoli to make ringing changes to Argentina
TYC Sports, an Argentinian sports channel, claim that Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli will make several changes to his side against Croatia. PSG’s Giovani Lo Celso will come in midfield for Lucas Biglia while Boca Junior’s Cristian Pavon will replace Angel Di Maria on the left. Sevilla’s Gabriel Mercado will replace Salvio at right-back.
Croatia, who will qualify for the next round with a win, will be without forward Nikola Kalinic who was sent home after refusing to come on as a substitute. Mario Mandzukic to score and Croatia to win was 6/1 but is now 7/1.
Croatia have holding midfielders such as Milan Badelj and Marcelo Brozović but elected not to start them against Nigeria. Whether they continue with that fluid midfield against Argentina remains to be seen.
Messi to make his mark? He may have missed a penalty but Lionel Messi to score first and Argentina to win was 9/2. Not 5/1. Now 6/1.
Argentina desperately need Lionel Messi to step up if they are to make it out of the group considering only Bolivia scored fewer goals than them in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. Messi was heavily involved against Iceland, recording 11 shots, 60 completed passes and nine take-ons but did not fare any better for it. Lionel Messi to score inside 10 mins is 16/1.
Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last four appearances for Argentina. Sergio Aguero to score first is betting at 7/2.
Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic said “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.”
Anis grew up supporting Manchester City but found joy and solace across Europe’s major football leagues. Increasingly passionate about NBA, he is interested in and has written extensively about different aspects of sport across the years, previously working at Sky Sports News and Sport360 newspaper in Dubai. He studied Journalism at University but spent a large portion of his academic years building City Watch instead - the largest independent Manchester City Twitter account and website.