World Cup 2018: 3 key factors which could decide the Argentina versus Croatia game
Argentina and Croatia are going to lock horns in a crucial World Cup Group D encounter in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday night. Argentina are one of the traditional powerhouses of world football as they have won 2 World cups and finished runners up on 3 other occasions.
Croatia too have qualified for every World Cup except the 2010 one since their laudable 3rd place finish in 1998. Moreover, they are in good form as they beat Nigeria 2-0 in their opening match last Saturday.
However things do not look very rosy for Argentina as they have somehow managed to split points with Iceland in their inaugural match.
They struggled a lot to qualify for this World Cup and it took a hat-trick from Lionel Messi in their last qualifying match to help them qualify for the tournament.
Argentina would be a bit ahead on paper before tomorrow’s clash but that theoretical advantage could mean little in a tight, engrossing World Cup match.
Croatia would definitely fancy their chances against the South American giants. Lets take a look at 3 key factors which could determine the fate of the game.
#1 The midfield battle between Luka Modric and Javier Mascherano
Both Modric and Mascherano have been exceptional performers for their respective national sides. Both of them have also earned more than 100 caps for their respective countries.
Modric is currently one of the best central midfielders in the world and remains the engine of the Croatian team. He dictates the pace of the game and pulls the strings from the midfield with his fabulous range of passes.
Mascherano on the other hand is past his prime but remains one of the most reliable players of this Argentine side. He plays as a defensive midfielder for the national team and therefore, the onus would be on him to prevent Modric from holding sway in the midfield.
He has to go for tackles and interceptions to stop the flow of passes from the Croatian Maestro. Mascherano is playing in his 4th World Cup and this is perhaps going to be his last tournament in national colours. Therefore he would like to make his swansong memorable.