|(Image courtesy of newgersy.com)
Big, big game in Group D. To get things going and get a foothold in this competition, Argentina really need to win this. However, as we all know, Croatia are no slouches, with some high profile, quality players and a squad who can get results, like they did against Nigeria in a 2-0 win. Players such as Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic will be a threat that needs to be contained and the Argentina forwards likewise, so ultimately this should be a quality, end to end game.
Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero.
Needs to have a much better game than he did against Iceland. But he’ll stay in goal for this one I assume.
Defenders: Nicolas Tagliafico (LB), Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otamendi (CBs) and Eduardo Salvio (RB).
From the full backs’ perspective, they had a good game and just need to keep their heads up going forward. Could track back a tad more, though. As for the centre halves, there really needs to be a massive shift put in here, especially from Rojo, if they are to grab the match by the scruff of the neck. More resilience and commitment if you ask me.
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia (CMs), Angel Di Maria (LM), Lionel Messi (CAM/CF), Paolo Dybala (RM).
The two best centre mids the side have, were a solid unit in midfield, and so should look to have more of the same this time round. More offensively, it’s a shame that Di Maria didn’t affect the game that much and I’d like to see him play with more freedom and confidence, like we all know he can. Though Meza had an okay game and Sampaoli can be set in his ways about Dybala, he’s a talent not worth wasting, we need to see him start and see what he can do. Messi, the skipper, needs more of the same, to continue dominating the attack and making inroads. He’ll want to score more than anyone, on a personal and team level.
Forwards: Sergio Agüero (ST). Played well and scored a great goal, so he’ll continue as the number 9 lone striker.
Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic.
The talented and accomplished Monaco keeper did well to keep a clean sheet against Nigeria. He’ll be good in between the posts.
Defenders: Ivan Strinic (LB), Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren (CBs), Sime Vrsaljko (RB).
Against Nigeria, the left back and right back, particularly Strinic, did quite well going forward and tracking back, making no real mistakes to note. The central defenders stayed tight and compact, resisting the bombardment by the Super Eagles.
Midfielders: Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic (CMs), Mateo Kovacic (LM), Andrej Kramaric (CAM), Ivan Perisic (RM).
The deep lying, box to box midfielders, with bundles of ability and all round quality, will give the
attackers freedom to move and pick up the ball from deep and work with it. Both Rakitic and Modric are incredibly talented and have experience playing at the highest level in La Liga, with the latter arguably being one of the best centre mids in the world. Perisic of Inter, the versatile Kovacic of Real and Hoffenheim’s Kramaric all play with a similar intent and style, to read the game and use their pace and mobility to pose as a threat to the opposition.
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (ST)
Mandzukic is a great target man, who can move about and try and get his shot away. He’ll need good service being alone up there, but that shouldn’t be an issue with the midfield he has behind him.
SCORE PREDICTION: Argentina 2-1 Croatia. It’ll be a close competition, both teams will have to work hard and there’ll certainly be goals in this game. Argentina just have that edge, I believe, and will be desperate to make amends for drawing their first game.