The Argentina men’s national football team, also known as La Albiceleste (The Albiceleste), has slumped to a crushing defeat to Croatia in its second fixture at the preliminary round of the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Russia.
On Thursday, the Croatia football team handed La Albiceleste a 3-0 drubbing at the end of a Group D showdown at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, and claimed a place in the knockout stage of the tournament.
Argentina head coach Jorge Sampaoli drafted in Gabriel Mercado in defense to replace Marcos Rojo, and Enzo Perez and Marcos Acuna were chosen in midfield instead of Lucas Biglia and Di Maria.
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic, on the other hand, made just one change to the starting line-up of the Vatreni (The Blazers) and brought in 25-year-old midfielder Marcelo Brozovic for striker Andrej Kramaric.
Ante Rebic seized on a gaffe by Argentina keeper Willy Caballero, when the latter picked up a back pass and surprisingly lobbed it towards the Croatian forward. Rebic then whacked in a volley in the 53rd minute to open the way to victory for the Balkan side.
After that, the Vatreni captain Luka Modric doubled Croatia’s lead 10 minutes from time.
Ivan Rakitic put the icing on the cake one minute into added time and sealed the Croatia squad’s resounding win.
During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1 last year, the host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay were put in Group A in the preliminary round of the tournament.
The Iran men’s national football team, nicknamed Team Melli, has joined Portugal’s A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco.
France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.
Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.
Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from June 14 to July 15. Russia opened the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The hosts won the match 5-0.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.