By: Jason Green
Date: Thursday June 21st
Time: 7:00 PM
Match Odds: Argentina EVEN / Croatia +305 / Draw +235
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Hard to believe that after only one match Argentina has a tough road to advance to the knockout phase. They played to a 1-1 draw in their opener facing Iceland while Croatia played a solid match in their 2-0 win over Nigeria. The win by the Croats was their first in the opening match of the World Cup since back in 1998 when they finished a legit 3rd.
All time Argentina is 2-1-1 facing Croatia with the last match in a friendly in England in 2014 where Argentina won 2-1.
Lionel Messi had his chances with 11 shots on goal in the draw against Iceland and he also missed a key penalty shot. He said he cost the team the win because of the miss, by the has to get back on the horse and lead his squad facing a solid Croatian side that comes into the match with a lot of confidence.
Messi had his chances and while Sergio Aguero had a brilliant goal for the only Scorefor Argentina Messi needs more help. The team did not have much creativity up front besides what Messi was doing with the ball and the other players around him have to help out and not just be spectators.
The Croats got a great match from midfielders LUka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in the win over Nigeria and they may be THE best MF duo in the Tournament. Both played well on the attack and on defense and Modric’s passing was great the entire match. Their mentality is more of the attacking kind and will that be the case in this match? They will be happy if they draw with Argentina, but is likely they will not alter their Game plan.
Croatia scored their two goals facing Nigeria on an own goal and on a penalty. The striker duo of Mario Mandukić and Andrej Kramarić was not great up front missing out on several scoring opportunities against Nigeria. They were set up well from the midfield and have to generate more offense and more shots on goal in this match.
In the uninspiring draw against Iceland Argentina easily won time of possession 78% to 22%. They were frustrated by Iceland’s defensive tactics and the Croats may want to take a page from them in this big group encounter.
Croatia has scored at least one goal in their last five World Cup matches and while Argentina only gave up one goal in the draw against Iceland their holes were exposed. If the Croats can contain Messi and find those holes Argentina may be in trouble.
Iceland played a very defensive minded match in drawing with Argentina and it will be interesting to see if Croatia adapts that style.
Last Three Matches
5/30/18 Argentina 4 Haiti 0 (Friendly)
6/9/18 Israel – Argentina – (Cancelled)
6/16/18 Argentina 1 Iceland 1 (World Cup)
6/3/18 Brazil 2 Croatia 0 (Friendly)
6/8/18 Croatia 2 Senegal 1 (Friendly)
6/16/18 Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 (World Cup)
Prediction: Tough call in this one with Argentina being a world power, but not playing like one in their opening match while Croatia was very good in their first showing in Russia. The Croats will play a more defensive match this time around, but Messi will still find a way and finally get some help, as Argentina will win 2-1 in what will be a very close match.