Croatia took the hammer to Lionel Messi and Co., inflicting the Albiceleste’s worst first-round group stage defeat since 1958
Lionel Messi hoped to lead Argentina to a memorable World Cup. But while Argentina’s game against Croatia may have been unforgettable, receiving the worst beating the nation has taken in a first-round group-stage match in 60 years was not what they had in mind.
Croatia put in a strong performance, breaking through after both sides squandered first-half chances, and came away with a convincing 3-0 victory over the Albiceleste in the second game of Group D play on Thursday.
It was an ugly performance all around for Argentina, as they struggled to get their stars, Messi and Sergio Aguero into the proceedings.
Argentina did have an opportunity to get off on the right foot a half hour in, but Enzo Perez missed a clear-cut chance on a near-open goal with the game still scoreless.
Then in the second half, Ante Rebic took advantage of a horrible mistake by Argentina keeper Willy Caballero to open the scoring for Croatia. A Luke Modric rocket from distance doubled their advantage.
Ivan Rakitic’s goal to close out the scoring added insult to injury, as Argentina had not suffered a defeat so heavy in the group stage of a World Cup since the 1958 edition, when they were hammered 6-1 by Czechoslovakia.
Meanwhile, Argentina have not won their last four World Cup matches – the first time in their history that has occurred.
Aside from the loss to Croatia and an opening-game draw against Iceland, Argentina lost in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in extra time. In addition, though they did get past the Netherlands in the semi-final of the tournament in Brazil, it came through a shootout after a scoreless 120 minutes.
The heavy defeat puts Argentina in a difficult spot when it comes to qualifying for the knockout stages, though advancement is still possible.
Argentina will require a win against Nigeria, combined with results elsewhere, if they have any hope of salvaging their 2018 World Cup dream