-By Soul Sword-
Argentina Vs Croatia kicked off at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Argentina was looking for a victory after the last match ended in a draw but within 5’ it was Croatia (already on top of the table) who attempted a shot at goal but missed. At 12’ it was Argentina’s turn but it was well defended. There were a few missed chances after this but the score remained 0-0. Both the sides started to play rough and the referee had to interfere a couple of times to break it up. At 30’ there was a great opportunity for Argentina as the post was open and the goalkeeper away but they missed as the shot went wide. 3 minutes later Croatia too missed a chance at goal. Croatia’s Rebic ended up with a yellow card before halftime and the score was still at 0-0.
The second half commenced and Croatian captain Modric was in great form with his accurate passes. At 53’ Croatia scored their first goal when the Argentinean Goalkeeper Caballero wrongly passed the ball to Croatia’s Rebic who made no mistake in converting it into a goal putting Croatia in the lead 1-0. This was a costly error as Argentina was already struggling to take the ball to their side of the field. At 63’ Messi tried to score but it was well defended. Again at 65’ Croatia thwarted Argentina’s attempts to score. Croatia nearly scored their 2nd goal at 73 minutes but it was defended by Argentina in the last moment. At 81’ Modric scored a beautiful goal for Croatia from outside the box bringing the lead to 2-0 Croatia’s way. Argentina’s Otamendi kicked the ball at the head of a Croatia player who was on the ground and this resulted in a big heated scuffle. Croatia earned a free kick out of this but the ball hit the crossbar. At 91’ Croatia’s Rakitic attempted a shot and Argentinean Goalkeeper Caballero deflected it but Kramaric again passed it back to Rakitic who scored this time. Croatia won the match fair and square with a score of 3-0 cruising through to the knockout stage.
Argentina lacked proper defence (which costed them dearly) and they seemed demotivated throughout the match. They didn’t have a good day on the attacking front as well. Croatia, on the other hand, was in terrific form with great teamwork and they did not depend on just one player for scoring the goals. The gameplay on both sides was rough with a lot of ugly tackles which got 3 players from Argentina and 4 players from Croatia yellow carded. Croatia ended on top of their table with 6 points. Argentina and Iceland have a point each with Nigeria yet to open their score. The game was a major shocker for Argentinean fans as Argentina now have to pin their hopes on Nigeria to either win or draw the match against Iceland on 22 June, in order for Argentina to get through to the next stage.