Argentina after an unexpected draw in their debut against Iceland , is eager to find against Croatia, immersed in the controversy over the departure of Nikola Kalinic, good football, the lost credit and a victory with which to maintain their options to reach the round of 16.
It will not be easy. If Iceland, a theoretically smaller team, managed to sign boards in its debut in a World Cup, the next opponent of the table led by Jorge Sampaoli is not any team. It is the team of Luka Modric, who masterfully managed the Balkan side to victory against Nigeria (2-0). Without a doubt, a test of fire for Argentina.
Argentina, of the nine points that aspired to achieve in the group stage, stopped adding two. The shortage of variants in his coming-out at the Spartak stadium in Moscow opened a period of need. The Albiceleste needs victory with urgency; and you need, in equal measure, to earn credit.
In the run-up to the World Cup, the credibility of the current world runner-up was based on its history, but already in Russia its aspirations demand football.
With that goal, during the week Jorge Sampaoli matured his tactical ‘revolution’ without Marcos Rojo, without Lucas Biglia and without Ángel Di María. The mutation of the scheme, from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2, will motivate changes in almost all lines.
Gabriel Mercado will enter in defense to form together with Nicolás Otamendi and Nicolás Tagliafico; Eduardo Salvio and Marcos Acuña will shield them from the flanks; Javier Mascherano will remain as the only ‘5’; Cristian Pavón, Enzo Pérez and Maximiliano Meza will split two positions, while Willy Caballero will repeat as goalkeeper and Leo Messi and Sergio Agüero as the main offensive references.
however Argentina still depends too much
which continues to appeal to its commitment to the blue and white shirt. That is something that “is intact,” announced Jorge Sampaoli.
The attacker of Rosario, the top scorer in Argentina and Barcelona, has an opportunity to retaliate against Croatia’s failed penalty in the debut against Iceland.
Messi left for Nizhny Novgorod with wounded pride and bruised spirits, but it remains the main argument of the Albiceleste while awaiting the maturity of the collective.
“Thanks to the goals that he got, we are all here,” Cristian Ansaldi defended him at a press conference.
“We are all with him, that a penalty has failed does not mean anything,” added Paulo Dybala.
The 22 internationals know that Messi’s smile is the antidote to doubts. “This is going to change once we win again,” Ansaldi closed.
Opposite, Argentina will find a team that lives in a state similar to a roller coaster. On the one hand, happy for his good debut against Nigeria with a solid football that served to get three points after winning 2-0. The goals scored by Oghenekaro Etebo and Luka Modric’s penalty goal were enough for the Balkan side to take the lead in Group D.
But not everything was happiness in Croatia. After the clash the controversy with the expulsion of the concentration of Nikola Kalinic, who refused to enter the field in the last minutes.
The technician Zlatko Dalic decided that his player was going to be the last change, but the attacker said “no”. In its place, Marko Pjaca entered and the images that could be seen after Kalinic with the serious gesture are already World Cup history. After two days, he left the concentration.
Focused on soccer, Dalic could vary his scheme and some pieces to stop Messi. In the defense, it is possible to move Vida to the left side after Ivan Strinic’s irregular game. In that case, Vedran Corluka and Dejan Lovren would be the central pair.
The coach of Croatia also meditated on the entry of Mateo Kovacic or Milan Badelj as a pivot behind Ivan Rakitic and Modric to give strength to midfield. In the midfield, Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic would be joined by the right and left bands, respectively, to put balls to Mario Mandzukic.
The objective of Croatia will be, with change of plans or without them, adding three other points with which to ensure practically the round of 16. And, by the way, leaving Argentina almost sunk, which not only needs to win: it also needs to win well to recover the credit and that criticism of Messi is history.