The Latin Americans have now little chance of making it to the Round of 16.
The second round of fixtures at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is well underway, with the opening games being hotly-contested as we have come to expect. Argentina took on Croatia in their second game in Group D, following their draw against a heroic Iceland side. All eyes were on Lionel Messi who once again failed to deliver as his team lost 0-3.
We at Khel Now take a look at five things that can be taken away from this game.
Watch: Argentina 0-3 Croatia highlights
5. Argentina’s strikers need to step up
The first half was scattered with wasted chances from both sides, with the most presentable of the lot falling to Argentina’s Enzo Perez and Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic. Sergio Aguero, who is widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, had just seven touches of the ball in the first half.
The over-dependence on their talisman has become painfully evident over the course of this World Cup. Messi has continued his trait of underperformance in major tournaments and Argentina are worse off for it.
4. Defensive errors cost the Albiceleste
It was his glaring error that presented Rebic the chance to brilliantly volley Croatia in front. Argentina’s backline looked far from secure with the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and Gabriel Mercado having terrible games for the South Americans. Manager Jorge Sampaoli needs to sort this out fast if his side are going to have any hope of progression.
3. Luka Modric is one of the best midfielders of our generation
In a world dominated by the Ronaldos and Messis, we often forget just how good Luka Modric is. The man who was named as the worst transfer of the season by Marca in 2012, following his move from Tottenham to the Spanish capital, is now showing his class on the biggest stage of them all.
The diminitive midfielder brought panache to a largely scrappy game and also played his part with a beautifully taken goal.
2. Croatia are one of the dark-horses of the tournament
Nobody gave Croatia too much of a chance coming into the tournament, especially after their defeat to Brazil in a pre-tournament friendly. They currently sit top of Group D. following their first consecutive wins at a World Cup since their very first appearance.
The Europeans have what is possibly one of the best performing midfields in the tournament, making them a very exciting prospect going forward.
1. End of an era for Argentina
Argentina suddenly find themselves facing the prospect of an unprecedented early exit from the competition. While it may not be Messi’s last World Cup, it is so for many veteran players of the squad.
Argentina have long been considered as one of the games best exponents, but it is time to face reality. Gone are the days of Diego Maradona dribbling past the entire England squad. What they are right now is a bang average side, with a lot of work to do.
Argentina play their next fixture against Nigeria on 26 June.