Croatia vs. Argentina
|Date & Time||Thursday June 21, 2018, 2:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: CRO +314 / ARG +102 / Draw +235 -- Over/Under: 2
Argentina and Croatia meet Thursday in World Cup soccer action at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
Argentina hopes to bounce back after settling for a 1-1 draw against Iceland, despite being one of the bigger favorites in the opening matches. Argentina jumped out to an early 1-0 lead due to a Sergio Aguero goal, but it was quickly tied a few minutes later, and the Albiceleste couldn’t get anything going after that. Despite owning 73 percent of the possession and getting seven shots on goal, Argentina could only find the back of the net once and missed out on a great chance to get three points. Of course, the big discussion was the Lionel Messi missed penalty kick, and he takes full blame for the loss, but Argentina had plenty of other chances to take control of that match, and Hannes Halldorsson did a wonderful job of standing on his head. Argentina can’t allow this result to linger around long if this tournament is going to be successful.
Croatia has a chance to take control of this group after beating up on Nigeria, 2-0. Croatia controlled 53 percent of the possession and scored on both of its shots on goals, as Oghenekaro Etebo and Luka Modric both found the back of the net. Modric admitted after the game that all of the pressure is on Argentina for this match given the results of both clubs in their first matches. Croatia is kind of playing with house money at this point and has little pressure on its side due to already having three points in its back pocket. Croatia has now won three of its last five matches, which includes a victory over Mexico, and its allowed one or less goals in five of its last seven matches overall. As long as the Blazers can get back defensively and limit good looks, they have a shot to get the win here and all but wrap up a spot in the knockout stages.
There’s no previous meetings between these two sides.
If Argentina is going to regain its confidence and give itself a fair shot at making it out of this group, it needs a win here. Also, it’s not like Argentina played bad in its draw against Iceland. While most pay attention to the Messi penalty kick, Argentina had several good looks to score but just couldn’t execute. It happens. Croatia has proven to be a solid team and has all the confidence in the world right now. However, a sense of urgency can be the difference here, and it’s only a matter of time before Messi has his breakthrough World Cup moment. With what he said after the Iceland match and the fact he took the blame, you can expect a more engaged and eager club.
I’ll take Argentina to redeem itself.