Argentina will hope to get their first win in the 2018 World Cup when they take on Group D rivals Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Thursday.
The Albiceleste were left feeling deflated after being held to a 1-1 draw against Iceland in their opening game and they will be desperate to bounce back with a win over a team that already has three points on the board.
Those points were secured by the Croatians following a 2-0 win over Nigeria, but they will encounter a wholly different challenge when they come up against Lionel Messi and Co.
A win for Croatia would leave Argentina’s hopes of reaching the last 16 hanging by a thread and Jorge Sampaoli will be doing his utmost to avoid that scenario.
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on BBC One or streamed live online using the BBC iPlayer.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BBC One||BBC iPlayer|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Guzman, Armani, Caballero|
|Defenders||Rojo, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Ansaldi, Mercado, Fazio, Acuna|
|Midfielders||Biglia, Banega, Di Maria, Meza, Mascherano, Perez, Salvio, Lo Celso, Pavon|
|Forwards||Higuain, Messi, Aguero, Dybala|
Having been held to a draw by Iceland, Sampaoli may opt to make some changes to the team for the Croatia game, with rumours circulating that he will switch to a 3-4-3 formation in search of victory.
However, with no new injury concerns it is entirely possible that the Albiceleste boss sticks with the XI that started against Iceland.
Potential Argentina XI: Caballero; Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Salvio, Mascherano, Meza, Acuna; Messi, Aguero, Pavon.
|Goalkeepers||Livakovic, L. Kalinic, Subasic|
|Defenders||Vrsaljko, Strinic, Corluka, Jedvaj, Lovren, Caleta-Car, Vida, Pivaric|
|Midfielders||Perisic, Rakitic, Kovacic, Modric, Brozovic, Bradaric, Badelj|
|Forwards||Kramaric, Rebic, Pjaca, Mandzukic|
Croatia lined up with an attacking 4-3-3 formation in their win over Nigeria, but things are expected to change for the game against Argentina to shore up the defence against Messi.
Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj is likely to come into the team for Andrej Kramaric to provide an extra defensive body alongside Ivan Rakitic in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Potential Croatia XI: Subasic; Vida, Corluka, Strinic, Lovren, Vrsaljko; Rakitic, Badelj, Modric, Perisic, Rebic; Mandzukic.
Betting & Match Odds
Argentina are favourites to win the game at 23/20 according to dabblebet, with Croatia priced at 14/5. A draw between the sides is a 9/4 bet.
Click here to see all of dabblebet’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
One of the main talking points following Argentina’s draw against Iceland was the fact that Messi missed a penalty and subsequently failed to sway the game in his side’s favour, giving further credence to the notion that the Albiceleste are a husk of a team when the Barcelona star is off his game.
Indeed, in the build-up to the game against Croatia, Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic boldly asserted that his country are actually a better all-round unit than the South Americans and that they have nothing to fear from Sampaoli’s men.
“We do not need to be too afraid of Argentina,” Kovacic told reporters ahead of the match. “We are singularly better than them, except Messi, and so we should behave, look at ourselves, not others.”
Argentina are fully aware of their shortcomings though and it has been mooted that Sampaoli will change things up tactically in order to get a victory over the Croatians. Indeed, the former Sevilla boss has plenty of high-quality options to consider, including Juventus pair Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala.
Either way, with their hopes of reaching the last 16 in the balance, an improvement is absolutely necessary if they are to overcome Croatia, who, with the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in their ranks, are technically superior to Iceland.
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