Lionel Messi-catalyzed Argentina will be up against confident Croatia for the last match of the day in the second round of FIFA World Cup 2018.
Argentina will look to pull things back under their control after a shocking finish against Iceland in their previous encounter. It will prove to be a must-win affair for Argentina if they want to finish in top 16.
Meanwhile, Croatia will be entering the encounter with a win in their previous encounter against Nigeria. Thus, with a win in this encounter, Croatia will look to book the top 16 seat.
If the reports are to be believed, Nikola Kalinic of Croatia has been asked to leave the squad. Nikola has been sent back home after he refused to take the field against Nigeria as a substitute, with a back problem mentioned as the reason.
Argentina vs Croatia, Group D:
Match Date: 21 June 2018, Thursday
Match Timing: 23:30 IST, 18:00 GMT
Match Venue: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Expected Crowd Turnout: With a big game ahead for both the teams, the Argentina vs Croatia encounter is expected to be a jam-packed affair with a total crowd-turnout of 44,800.
Head-to-head in World Cups
Argentina 1 - 0 Croatia. This will be the only second meeting between Argentina and Croatia at FIFA World Cup. The last when Argentina and Croatia met at FIFA World Cup, Argentina had the upper-hand as they won the encounter 1-0.
Argentina FIFA 2018 WC Squad
Goalkeepers: Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), and Nahuel Guzman (Tigres).
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), and Cristian Ansaldi (Torino).
Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di Maria (Paris St-Germain), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris St-Germain), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), and Enzo Perez (River Plate).
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), and Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).
Probable Starting XI
Willy Caballero, Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafic, Eduardo Salvio, Javier Mascherano, Maximiliano Meza, Marcos Acuna, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, and Cristian Pavon.
Croatia FIFA 2018 WC Squad
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), and Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb)
Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Milan), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), and Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg).
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), and Filip Bradaric (Rijeka).
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Juventus), and Ante Rebic (Fiorentina).
Probable Starting XI
Danijel Subasic, Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Ivan Rakitic, Milan Badelj, Marcelo Brozovic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, and Mario Mandzukic.
Stats to look into ahead of the encounter:
Argentina and Croatia will be coming head to head in the FIFA World Cup after a gap of 20 years. Last time when Argentina played Croatia in a FIFA World Cup match was in 1998.
Croatia doesn't enjoy a good record against South American nations. At FIFA World Cup, Croatia have lost all of their four encounters against South American nations.
Croatia have never failed to score in their last five encounters at FIFA World Cup which accounts for their longest such streak in the tournament.
If he finds a place in today's playing XI, Vedran Corluka will become the only second player from the current Croatia squad to feature in 100 matches for his country.
Argentina vs Croatia: Match Prediction
Predicted score: Argentina 2- 0 CroatiaPublished 21 Jun 2018, 17:16 IST