Kick-off: Thursday, 21st June @19:00 GMT
Venue: Nizhny Novgorod
Head to head
Croatia vs Argentina 0-0 (1994 Friendly)
Argentina vs Croatia 1-0 (1998 World Cup)
Croatia vs Argentina 3-2 (2006 Friendly)
Argentina vs Croatia 2-1 (2014 Friendly)
Argentina vs Croatia predictions
Twenty years ago was the first and only meeting between the two sides so far in the World Cup. On that occasion, in 1998, Argentina won 1-0. Since then, they played a couple of friendlies with Croatia winning in 2006 and Argentina winning in 2014.
While most will pick Argentina to edge this game in the end, things are not so cut dry. All Croatian players play in teams outside Croatia and in pivotal roles. Rakitic plays with Messi for Barcelona and knows him well. This could be the key to a Croatian win. Still, Messi and crew will look to prove they are better then what we saw in the first game.
It’s not yet known if any changes will be made to the lineups. However, it’s certain that Nikola Kalinic won’t be featuring in the game after he was sent home for not wanting to come on as a substitute against Nigeria.
Looking to break the duck
Argentina have been underachieving at the big stage for a while now, at senior level. Their U-20 team has won the World Cup six times. No one can put their finger on exactly why they are not succeeding, especially with arguably the best player in the world in the team. The closest they got in recent history was the final against Germany last time around in 2014.
Croatia have fallen to No20 in the FIFA rankings even though they have been regarded as a talented squad for a long time. While they have been successful, they seem to just fall short in the end. Still, some pundits put them in the top 10 teams for this World Cup.
Messi-ng it up
In the game against Iceland, Messi had 11 shots at goal. That’s the most shots at goal he’s ever had in a single game for the Argentinian national team. One of them was, of course, the penalty he missed.
Some people have questioned whether Messi is the right leader for the team, especially after their big defeat against Spain this past March. For sure, he is under a lot of pressure.
However, he will look to alleviate those doubts in the game on Thursday. History plays a big part in football, and Messi has a good history with Croatia. Like we mentioned earlier, his first goal for Argentina came against Croatia and he has scored against them in a friendly win in 2014.
- Both Argentina and Croatia have the same record in their last 6 internationals – three wins, two losses and a draw.
- Messi scored his first goal for the Argentinian national football team against Croatia in a friendly in 2006.
- Along with France, Argentina is the only other national football team to win all three FIFA recognized competitions – the World Cup, Olympics and the Confederations Cup (equivalent to the European Championship).
- Croatia has lost previous four matches they played in the World Cup against South American sides.
- If he plays, this will be Vedran Corluka’s 100th appearance for the national team.
Argentina vs Croatia betting pick
Croatia hasn’t won a back to back game in the World Cup for ten years now. Argentina has to approach this game as a must win. It might be a fantastic contest. One of the key matchups will be Dejan Lovren vs Sergio Aguero, who’s scored the only goal so far for Argentina.
While a high scoring draw might be in the offing, it is more likely that the Argentinians, led by Messi, will manage to defeat the Croats. After all, they have won the World Cup twice in the past and are runners-up from 2014.
Pick: Argentina to win