ARGENTINA NOW UNDER PRESSURE FOR THEIR PLACE IN WORLD CUP 2018

Make no mstake about it, one of the top teams of this World Cup are in real danger of having their tournament turn into a complete disaster. Argentina play Croatia (Thursday 21st 7pm BST) in a massive match that will either put life back into their campaign or maybe put them on the brink of elimination. They could only manage a draw against Iceland despite literally banging down the door against those opponents, and they only had themselves to blame by missing a penalty (Messi of all, people, though his record from the spot isn’t great for a player of his stature) though they were unfortunate not to get another one after a clear foul was not reviewed by VAR which would have given them another opportunity to take the victory.

PROBLEMS A PLENTY

Manager Jorge Sampaoli has big problems. It has been noted for sometime that if talisman Lionel Messi does not perform, neither does the side, ally that with a weak defensive underbelly, this team is vulnerable. The goal they let in against Iceland was a chaotic mess and they also conceded decent chances and the result could have been so much worse. Going forward they are a match for anyone, but if that area is misfiring (ie Messi, though Sergio Aguero looked very sharp on his first competitive return for some months – so he can only get better and is capable of winning a game on his own) then they look very ordinary. It has been said that Messi has basically picked the squad in conjunction with the manager and if you don’t get on with the legend your chances of a place in the starting 11 or to get onto the field at least are slim, hence in my opinion harmony may not be what it should be in the camp.

ADVANTAGE CROATIA AS WE STAND 

So Croatia up next, they will be no pushovers and already have 3 points on the board so advantage to them. Their approach to this game will be interesting, they have the weapons to attack Argentina at pace, with their strength through the middle with Luka Modric alongside Ivan Rakitic allied to their hard running wingers Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic with Mario Mandzukic being a handful up top. The Argentine defence will be fully tested. To be fair The European side have nothing to lose really, they don’t really need to win this game and a point would be a great result, but even a defeat would not be as terminal as may well be for the South Americans. Most of the aces are with the Croats, but maybe the biggest ace of all will be Messi who needs to step up or his chance of winning a World Cup could be done and dusted so much earlier than expected.

Predictions for Thursday 21st June

Denmark 2 Australia 1

France 3 Peru 1

Argentina 1 Croatia 1

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