World Cup Preview – Group D | Argentina v Croatia

Croatia take on Argentina knowing a victory will all but seal their place in the knockout stages.

Croatia are top of Group D after their opening victory over Nigeria, whilst Argentina were held by Iceland.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has raised some eyebrows with his remark that Argentina would be their ‘easiest game’.

Dalic clarified: “I didn’t say that Argentina was the easiest opponent. I said that this was the easiest game for us. We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best.”

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has found himself having to defend his star man Lionel Messi – who was far from his best in the clash with Nigeria.

“Messi can’t be the only guilty one. When he scores, all Argentines celebrate, so when he misses, we can’t jump on him alone … that’s too easy a way to think.

“I told him ‘This is the World Cup of 40 million (Argentinians). You made a mistake, I made a mistake, we all made a mistake’ … The team will be together when things go well and when things go badly.”

See below for a preview on the game, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

Argentina 19:00 Croatia
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
Live on BBC

Caballero; Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Salvio, Mascherano, Meza, Acuna; Messi, Aguero, Pavon.

Croatia: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Badelj; Brozovic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic​.

KEY FACT: Argentina have gone three World Cup finals games without a win
Match odds from bet365: ARGENTINA 23/20 DRAW 23/10 CROATIA 29/10
bet365 Pick: Croatia @29/10
ANDY SAYS: Close game and I am struggling to separate them, so I will say draw, but a good game…2-2
GRAEME SAYS: I didn’t fancy Argentina before their opening game, and even less now so Croatia win…0-2
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Luka Modric – some players are a pleasure to watch and he is still under valued on the Index.

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