Modric leads revamped Croatia against Iceland

Ruben Holloway
June 26, 2018

Sergio Aguero is among the other players dropped by Sampaoli for a game Argentina has to win to stand a chance of advancing from Group D alongside Croatia.

A chastening 3-0 defeat to Croatia in Group D last week made for grim reading in that regard for one of worldwide football's heavyweight nations.

Argentina's game against Nigeria has an extra importance due to the fact that it may be Messi's last ever game at a World Cup. They were on the brink of missing out on the finals for the first time since 1970 before Messi's hat-trick against Ecuador dragged them over the line. When Messi failed to net a penalty, the analogies were out and all the "greatness" pointed towards Ronaldo. Lionel Messi Misses Penalty Kick at World Cup 2018; Twitterati Trolls The Argentina Captain.

"That loss (in the qualifiers in June 2017) meant that we had to go through the playoffs and even if it is a new situation, it's a nice way to settle the score", said Dalic.

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"Like it our not, we are the runners-up from the World Cup and we have to show it".

"We've played Croatia four times in four years, we've often said we're like a married couple - we're trying to get divorced, but we always meet up again", said Iceland's head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, whose side are priced at 3/1 for the win, while a draw is available at 11/4 (Paddy Power).

Zabaleta also claimed he is subjected to criticisms in his home country as fans "treat him like a loser" for failing to replicate his FC Barcelona success for the Argentina team. Portugal eventually had to play out a draw as they finished second in Group B meaning in the Round of 16 contest they will be up against Uruguay and not Russian Federation.

Painful would be a good word to describe Sampaoli's ordeal at the hands of his Argentine media tormentors. "I am convinced that the team is going to win tomorrow".

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Even a win may not be enough for Iceland, as they will need to keep an eye on Argentina's meeting with Nigeria in Saint Petersburg.

Should Iceland fail to bag three points at the Rostov Arena they will be eliminated regardless of the outcome of Nigeria's match with Argentina.

Hosts Argentina progressed to the second group stage as runners-up to Italy and looked on course for a third-place play-off against the same opponents as they entered the final match of the second phase level on points with Brazil.

"We lost very badly, they really humiliated us this time", said 22-year-old Joaquin, at a fanzone in Buenos Aires.

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