NIZHY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA—Argentina is on the verge of being eliminated from the World Cup following a 3-0 loss against Croatia on Thursday, June 21. Argentina had gone into the tournament hoping to win a major title, but their chances of becoming FIFA World Cup champions has decreased.
On Friday, June 16, Argentina played their first match against Iceland and tied 1-1 after Lionel Messi missed a penalty kick. Their match against Iceland was already a setback for the team since they did not expect the match to result in a tie. Their loss against Croatia has put them in an even worse position to make it into the second round. Argentina has not missed making the second round of the tournament since 2002.
Argentina’s loss on Thursday has been the team’s worst loss in World Cup history since Czechoslovakia beat them 6-1 in 1958.
In order for Argentina to advance into the second round of the tournament they need to win their next match on Tuesday, June 26 against Nigeria. Winning their next match does not guarantee them a spot, as they require help from other match results.
Jorge Sampaoli, coach for Argentina, has received backlash from fans due to his team’s performance in the World Cup. He received a large amount of criticism on his choice of tactics and player selection. During the post match conference following Thursday’s loss, Sampaoli said he takes full responsibility for Argentina’s performance thus far.
Fans have questioned Messi’s performance in the tournament. Throughout Messi’s career, he has earned several awards and titles including holding the Guinness World Record for the most goals in a year, where in 2012 he scored 91 goals. This year Messi began the tournament missing a crucial penalty kick against Iceland and had fewer passes than Willy Caballero during Argentina’s match against Croatia.
Despite Caballero having had more passes than Messi against Croatia, his error in the second half of the match put Argentina in a bad standing. Caballero gifted the ball to Ante Rebic allowing him to score on Argentina.
Croatia Coach Zlatko Dalic stated to the press after their win on Thursday, “We beat a great Argentina with the best player in the world playing, Messi.” Croatia is scheduled to play Iceland on Tuesday.