World Cup 2018: Argentina vs Croatia Predictions and Preview – Nizhny Novgorod Stadium – June 21, 2018 – 19:00 hrs BST – Group D Clash
The Albiceleste after their humiliating draw against Iceland now go to Nizhny Novgorod in Western Russia to play Croatia in a must win game.
Argentina vs Croatia Predictions
Odds correct as of 19/06/2018.
The Croatians would be feeling the more comfortable side having secured three points from their first Group encounter against Nigeria. But coach Jorge Sampaoli could not have failed to notice the lack of sting in the Croatian win over the Super Eagles. The Balkan team were disconcerted in their attacks and dwelling for most part of the game in the mid-field.
Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic will again be expected to play key roles in that space against the World Cup 2014 runners-up on Thursday. But Mario Mandzukic will have to raise his game as a striker against a Argentine defense that's much more experienced than the Nigerians they faced last weekend.
The Croatian defensive quartet of Sime Vrsaljko, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida that was barely tested on Saturday at Kaliningrad could struggle to stay intact against an Argentine attack that will come hammer and tongs at them.
As for the Argentine forward positions, there could again be a toss for the striker’s role between Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain. Juventus striker Higuain who was surprisingly left out of the Iceland game could well find his way back into the starting XI.
The Argentine defense marshalled by the likes of Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi and United's Marco Rojo will probably have to do a little more defending than they did against Iceland. Though they were hardly tested against the Icelanders, they came under enormous pressure the moment they were counter-attacked and could have ended up conceding more than the one goal they did.
Messi, Aguero, Di Maria are going to have a go at the Croatian goal on Thursday, there's little doubt about that. The Croatian defense will not be expected to be as dogged and tight as the Icelanders'. Messi & Co. will at least get one or two past them and the only thing that Croatians can do is to match that.
The contrasting expectations of the two Group D games gone by was that Iceland was reckoned to be the weakest link of the cluster and Nigeria a tough nut to crack.
Both presumptions now stand reversed. As things stand, Argentina could find Croatia an easier opposition than Iceland.
Bookmakers odds point to a comfortable win for the South Americans, which is their only option if they are to survive ouster. A 2-0 or 3-1 looks a likely score line in favor of Messi & his men.