There was nothing Lionel Messi could do as Argentina were utterly outclassed and defeated 3-0 against a better Croatian team. Messi was indeed a non-feature in the game and Argentina hardly troubled Croatia.
Croatia had the best of chances in the first half but were unfortunate to end the half goalless. Willy Caballero’s howler handed Ante Rebic a chance he could not miss as he struck beautifully to give Croatia the lead in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric stunner from outside the 18-yard box doubled the lead in the 80th minute before Lionel Messi’s Barcelona teammate Ivan Rakitic twisted the knife in Argentine hearts to ensure a 3-0 in the 90th minute.
Argentina were so convincingly torn to shreds by the Croats and it will no doubt be one of the worst World Cup performances for any Argentine side. We were all left wondering if this is the same Croatia that beat Nigeria 2-0. Jorge Sampaoli’s lack of tactical consistency cost his Argentine side going for a 3-4-3 formation this time and his selections were very questionable deciding not to start Angel DiMaria and Paulo Dybala who would have fared better.
This result effectively means that Argentina does not have their fate in their own hands, if Iceland defeats Nigeria tomorrow. The defeat also swings the group open for Nigeria to fight for qualification to the second round. We certainly do hope the Super Eagles can capitalise on Argentina’s defeat and grab the second slot behind Croatia.
Earlier, France defeated Peru 1-0 in a crucial Group C match thanks to Golden Boy Kylain Mbappe’s tap-in the 34th minute. France had a very good first half with Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, and Antoine Greizmann star performers in the half. Peru gave a very good fight in the game and they deserved to get something out of the game. France sat deeper in the second half to protect their lead, a testament to how good Peru played and Pedro Aquini came closest in the half with a shot that hit the crossbar.
The defeat has eliminated Peru from the World Cup and their last group game against Australia will be inconsequential. They have played well in their past two games with a lot of energy and drive but have failed to convert their positive play to goals in the tournament most notably their 1–0 defeat against Denmark.
Australia battled hard to rescue a 1-1 draw against Scandinavian giants Denmark after Christian Eriksen scored a left-footed volley in the 7th minute to give Denmark the lead but Australia fought hard to equalise through a VAR awarded penalty converted by none other than bearded captain Mile Jedinak in the 38th minute. The Socceroos of Australia played better in the second half but could not force the win.
As it stands France have six points and lead the group, Denmark have four points, while Australia have one point and still have hope for qualification if France defeat Denmark in their last group game and they defeat Peru. However, their qualification is out of their hands.
This World Cup so far has been very competitive and the gap between all the teams has been reduced. Only Russia and Croatia have rattled their opponents so far, because of the passion and extra lift being a host nation gives. Which makes it all the more exciting for the fans.
Dolapo is a writer and journalist who works with YNaija. He has interests in Christianity, politics and sports.