Surely it couldn’t get worse for Argentina. In its opening World Cup game, against Iceland, a game in which captain and national treasure Lionel Messi missed a penalty, the Argentines were held to a draw.
But on Thursday the 2014 runners-up found that it could indeed get worse. Much worse. The World Cup is as good as over for Lionel Messi and Argentina thanks to an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Croatia. This is Argentina’s heaviest loss in the league stages of the World Cup since 1958.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOE_UK) June 21, 2018
A hard-fought first 45 minutes, with both teams looking to cancel each other out with tactical fouls and actual tough challenges that warranted bookings. Argentina had most of the possession but used by passing the ball around the back, but they could not find a way to make a clean buildup. Croatia were always quick and dangerous with the ball, and both Perisic and Mandzukic had very good chances to score, but couldn’t.
When Argentina need a favour 🦅 pic.twitter.com/AgqUSIKdNV
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 22, 2018
The best chance of the half belonged to Argentina when goalkeeper Subasic left his goal and made a poor mistake in the box, but Enzo Pérez somehow missed the target completely and we went into halftime with a goalless draw, a terrible result for Lionel Messi and Co.
Argentina made a good start to the final period, having a cleaner work of possession with Messi in a more central role, and Sergio Agüero had a good chance to score. It all started going wrong for Argentina when Willy Caballero made a dreadful error to gift Ante Rebic a golden chance to volley home for the lead.
🏆 Argentina's #WorldCup Squad:
🇦🇷 Icardi Last Season:
🏟 Games: 36
⚽️ Goals: 29
❌ Left out of Squad
🇦🇷 Dybala Last Season:
🏟 Games: 46
⚽️ Goals: 26
❌ Left on Bench
🇦🇷 Di Maria Last Season:
🏟 Games: 41
⚽️ Goals: 21
❌ Left on Bench
😱 Waste Of Talent. pic.twitter.com/HStfku6kkf
— SPORF (@Sporf) June 22, 2018
Unfortunately, Argentina were poorly coached, poorly managed and facing immense pressure, so even though Paolo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín came on to try and find an equalizer, the team just could not put together one dangerous attacking move and kept sending long balls into the box without any success.
Croatia were always the better team and killed the game for good with an incredible strike from distance by Luka Modric who received the ball on the edge of the area, took two touches, then quickly swerved to find just enough space to bend a shot past Cabellero.
Diego Maradona before the Argentina game vs after the Argentina game. 😳 pic.twitter.com/zwgJgJzkQe
— Goal (@goal) June 21, 2018
This Argentina team is the worst we’ve seen in decades, and Lionel Messi can only do so much. Although he definitely did not do enough today. His international career is most likely done for good, and what a terrible ending this is.
The goal all but sealed the result, but there was still time for one more breakdown in the Argentine defence. Messi’s Barcelona teammate Ivan Rakitic, who had earlier struck the bar with a free kick, scored on a tap-in off a pass from Mateo Kovacic just yards from the goal mouth.
Argentina now sweat on the result of Iceland’s clash with Nigeria on Friday in Group D – and a win for the former would leave them three points off second place ahead of their own game against the African nation next week. Croatia will face Iceland themselves next week as they look to go unbeaten to the knockout stages.
Watch the full highlights of the Game right here :