Match prediction & recommendation: CROATIA
About Argentina vs Croatia Match
Runners-up in Brazil four years ago, Argentina will look to get back to winning ways when they face Group D leaders Croatia – who beat Nigeria in their first match – in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday; Argentina drew their opening game against Iceland. The match is scheduled to take place on June 21, and kick off at 9pm local time.
Argentina Team News, Updates, and Facts
Argentina Team News
Argentina opted for Willy Caballero in goal for their opening World Cup goal, but his place could be under threat after he failed to hold a shot, the rebound from which was Iceland’s equaliser. Javier Mascherano was preferred to Ever Banega in holding midfield, meanwhile, but the two could line up together against Croatia; Giovani Lo Celso was an unused sub, meanwhile.
Argentina Key Players
Lionel Messi (forward) – He may have missed a penalty in the last match, but Lionel Messi did score a hat-trick to fire Argentina to the World Cup and was the player of the tournament at the last World Cup.
Sergio Aguero (forward) – Proved his form and fitness with a great turn and finish for Argentina’s goal against Iceland – his second in two games since injury and 38th in total
Angel di Maria (winger) – The Paris Saint-Germain man won his 95th international cap against Iceland, from which he has scored 19 goals and created plenty more.
Argentina Previous match
Argentina 1-1 Iceland
Lionel Messi’s missed penalty proved costly as Argentina Football team failed to overcome Iceland on the minnows’ World Cup debut. Sergio Aguero gave Argentina the lead with a brilliant turn and shot, but Alfred Finnbogason equalised before Messi’s spot-kick was saved by Hannes Halldorsson in the second-half.
Argentina Team Form
Argentina’s recent form highlights their inconsistency perfectly – a 4-2 defeat to Nigeria, having been 2-0 up, and a crushing 6-1 loss to Spain in among a 4-0 win against Haiti and 2-0 victory against Italy. Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in the win against Haiti, but missed a penalty as Argentina drew with Iceland last time out.
Argentina Predicted Starting Line up
Expected Line up: 4-4-2
Argentina likely XI
- Goalkeeper:Willy Caballero
- Defenders:Eduardo Salvio, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico
- Midfielders:Angel di Maria, Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Maximiliano Meza
- Forwards:Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi
Croatia Team News, Updates, and Facts
Croatia Team News
Nikola Kalinic will play no part in the World Cup after the AC Milan forward was sent home for refusing to come on in the opening game against Nigeria. Kalinic started the game on the bench but refused to come on – citing a back injury. Zlatko Dalic opted to send him home, however. Croatia’s other big-name strikers both featured against Nigeria – Mario Mandzukic up front and Andrej Kramaric in behind, with Luka Modric sitting deeper to accommodate him. Vedran Corluka missed the match, meanwhile – the veteran defender an unused sub as both Sime Vrsaljko and Ivan Strinic played in defence and Domagoj Vida moved inside – to leave him stuck on 99 international caps.
Croatia Key Players
Luka Modric (central midfielder) – At the World Cup after yet another Champions League win and scored from the spot in Croatia’s opening game – his 13th goal in 107 games.
Ivan Rakitic (central midfielder) – Modric’s rival at club level, but the Barcelona midfielder stars alongside him for their country.
Mario Mandzukic (striker) – More goals than any other striker in the current Croatia squad with 30 from 84 games – only 1998 Golden Boot winner Davor Suker has scored more for Croatia.
Croatia Previous match
Croatia 2-0 Nigeria (Etebo (OG), Modric (p))
Croatia had just two shots on target as they failed to find their rhythm against Nigeria in their opening game, but an own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo – from Mario Mandzukic’s header – gave them a half-time lead. Luka Modric then converted from the spot, after Mandzukic was fouled, to ensure Croatia team topped Group D after the first round of fixtures.
Croatia Team Form
Croatia have won three of their last five matches following the win against Nigeria, but their two defeats both came against South American opposition – losing 2-0 to both Peru and Brazil in friendlies. In between they won 1-0 against Mexico and then defeated Senegal 2-1 – having been 1-0 down – in their final warm-up game, before getting their 2018 World Cup campaign off to a winning start against Nigeria.
Croatia Predicted Starting Line up
Expected Line up: 4-2-3-1
Croatia likely XI
- Goalkeeper:Danijel Subasic
- Defenders:Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic
- Midfielders:Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic
- Attacking Midfielders:Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic
- Forwards:Mario Mandzukic
Argentina vs Croatia Head-to-Head Stats
Argentina have won two of their four matches against Croatia, including their only previous competitive meeting in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup. Croatia’s 3-2 win in March 2006 – their only success in this fixture – is also the last time they have beaten South American opposition. Most recently, Lionel Messi’s second-half penalty gave Argentina a 2-1 win at West Ham’s old Upton Park ground in a 2014 friendly.
Argentina vs Croatia Stats
Croatia have not beaten South American opposition since a 3-2 win against Argentina back in 2006
If Croatia win, they will be through to the second-round for the first time since finishing third on their debut in 1998
Sergio Aguero has scored in each of his last four Argentina appearances
Lionel Messi has scored in his last two appearances against Croatia – his goal in March 2006 was his first for the senior Argentina team.
Argentina vs Croatia Betting Tips
Argentina could not shake off their indifferent form when they faced Iceland in their opening Group D game – only drawing 1-1 – and now they must beat Croatia if they want to stand any chance of topping the group.
Anything less could lead to a last-16 tie with France – or the worst-case scenario would be a group stage exit, of course.
Croatia are in good shape under Zlatko Dalic but the controversial removal of Nikola Kalinic from the squad is a distraction they did not need.
Kalinic is not part of Croatia’s regular starting line-up but the nature of his early return home could upset the dynamic of the squad.
Argentina may also take heart from Croatia’s poor record against South American opposition, and Lionel Messi will have fond memories of facing them – he scored his first goal in 2006 (the last time Croatia beat any South American team) and then scored the winner in their most recent meeting.
Messi has a point to prove after his missed penalty against Iceland, but Sergio Aguero is in great form alongside him – four goals in his last four games, including the brilliant finish in the opening game.
Croatia will be confident of breaking down Argentina’s misfiring defensive unit, but in Messi, Aguero and the creative players behind them, the likes of Dejan Lovren will have his work cut out keeping them quiet at the other end.
It would not be a surprise based on recent form if Croatia pushed Argentina all the way, but the Albiceleste simply have to win – and know if they step it up they are capable of doing just that.
Argentina vs Croatia Recommended bets with odds
Argentina remain favourites to beat Croatia but their odds have lengthened to a best price of 21/20 with Bet365 and 10Bet.
Given their indifferent form, a draw no bet pick may offer a decent safety blanket, but the odds do drop to a best price of 10/21 with 10Bet.
Both sides boast strong, experienced attacking units and both teams to score has been set at 21/20 with 10Bet. An Argentina win and BTTS is a best price of 15/4 with Bet365, Ladbrokes and 888sport.
Lionel Messi has scored in both his previous appearances against Croatia but is as high as 23/17 to score at any time for a third time. Sergio Aguero, who has netted four in his last four internationals, is 2/1 with 888sport.
Argentina vs Croatia Top three bets
Argentina vs Croatia Prediction
Indifferent recent form has cast doubt on Argentina’s World Cup challenge, but a win against Croatia would provide a timely lift. Anything less could prove crucial in the long run.
Correct score prediction: Argentina 1-1 Croatia
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