So there we go! What a night for Croatia, their first time out of the group since 1998. They were brilliant in midfield tonight, just about kept their heads, and look like a team that knows what it's doing. Argentina, meanwhile, look like a team that doesn't know anything. Night!
- 2nd Half
- 1st Half
Argentina - Croatia
World Cup - 21 June 2018
World Cup – Follow the Football match between Argentina and Croatia live with Eurosport. The match starts at 19:00 on 21 June 2018. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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FULL-TIME: ARGENTINA 0-3 CROATIA! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO THE LAST 16, WHILE ARGENTINA'S PROGRESS IS NOT IN THEIR OWN HANDS!
Corluka celebrates his hundredth cap with a booking, for what i did not see.
Corluka comes on for his hundredth cap.
GOAL! Argentina 0-3 Croatia (Rakitic) Croatia break, 17 on 1, and Rakitic shoots, but Caballero pushes away ... except Kovacic in there to square for him, and he taps home! argentina have been ravaged, rustled and devastated!
Messi glides across the box and finds Meza, who does likewise and keeps going , past two men, and then swivels into a shot that's blocked behind for a corner which comes to nothing.
Croatia are lapping this up, as you would. Argentina haven't been in their half for quite some time.
It really is an achievement to get players this good playing this badly.
Acuna twists himself hard to make sure he fouls Vrsaljko, and is booked.
So, free-kick Croatia, 25 yards out ... and Rakitic curls an absolute sort over the wall and against the face of the bar! Fantastic effort!
Argie-bargie! Mascherano fouls Rakitic, then Otamendi spanks the ball at his grounded phizog from about a yard. There's a brief melee and Otamendi is booked.
In the excitement I forgot to note that Kovacic replaced Perisic.
Higuain messes about outside the box, then turns and drills a shot through Vida's legs that's still easy enough for Subasic.
And what a celebration from Modric too, no gimmicks, just the going of the mental.
WHAT A GOAL! WHAT A PLAYER! I SAID WHAT A PLAYER! Argentina 0-2 Croatia (Modric) He is so, so good - a great in fact. He takes a pass that comes across the face of the box, goes outside Otamendi, then inside, then turns and goes outside again ... before spanking a right-footed curler that scream, hisses and pants its way past Caballero! Argentina are done!
Perisic, who is made of barbed wire, worries Acuna, who does well to get back at him and draw the foul.
Kramaric heads it clear at the near post.
Pavon goes down the outside of Lovren, who slides in to cede the corner....
Otamendi goes in hard but fair on Rakitic, who wears his weight in the follow-through and collapses. The ref stops play, for no reason whatsoever and there is indignation; large quantities of.
Acuna bangs two crosses into the box, miles from anyone. On the touchline, Sampaoli has removed his jacket.
Sampaoli is wearing a black suit and tight, black v-neck something. Basically, don't look at him in the club.
Argentina get the ball into Higuain inside the box and Dybala is there to play off him, taking a touch and from an acute angle on the right of the box, curling hard and high.
Croatia are starting - continuing - to get wild with their tackles, but are still a threat on the break. Argentina, meanwhile, are really slow with their passing out of defence, which is making it difficult for them to maintain momentum.
Argentina aren't going to die wondering. Dybala replaces Perez, and has half the half to do something.
There've been some belting challenges in this game, and Vrsaljko runs through Acuna as he releases the ball, so is booked.
Back come Croatia, Rakitic spreading a love pass from centre to right, picked up by Vrsaljko who slips in Mandzukic. He shoots immediately, but from a tight angle, finds the side-netting.
Aaaaarrrggh. Argentina are coming! Acuna slips Higuain in and from the line he cuts back for Meza who shoots fro three yards but from right in front of Subasic, who blocks around the post with help from Rakitic as Messi also arrives on the scene. The corner comes to nothing, but it's fair to say things have intensified.
Messi picks up the ball just outside the box and immediately beats two men, but unable to find a pass, he looks to beat 34 more and is eventually crowded out. Things are getting warm.
Messi holds it up like he's Mark Hughes then spreads wide to Pavon. Higuain is in the middle, but he can't pick him out and Croatia clear.
If Argentina lose this, they'll need to win their last game and hope Iceland don't beat Nigeria and take a point off Croatia, or the other way around.
Mandzukic is late on Meza and is booked.
Rebic is replaced by Kramaric.
Rebic is hurt and will have to go off. On the touchline, Sampaoli is pacing, hand over mouth, like he's about to bite someone's face off. His own, perhaps?
Pavon replaces Salvio.
Higuain replaces Aguero. That should make Argentina more fluid.
WHAT A GOAL! Argentina 0-1 Croatia (Rebic) Aaaarrrgggg! Caballero is dead clever, see, so he dinks a pass over Rebic and to Mercado ... except he underhits it, and Rebic adjusts magnificently, backpeddling but keeping his eye on the ball to hook a brilliant volley over him and into the net! Argentina are in all sorts! Clever Willy!
Argentina moves the ball about for once and Messi finds Tagliafico, he slides a pass down the side for Ageuro ... he does that shoot from behind his arse thing, but Subasic is down to save.
Modric intercepts a pass and sets Rebic away. He races past Perez, so Mercado wallops him on the shin and is booked.
Is Perisic playing down the right now? He turns up there and drills a low cross looking for Rebic, but Otamendi humps clear.
Modric handles and Argentina take the free-kick quickly, Meza ramming a shot into the nearest defender. Great stuff.
Argentina knock it about without penetrating. This half is yet to get going properly.
If Argentina draw here, and Iceland beat Nigeria, Argentina will have problem. Iceland finished above Croatia in qualifying, so are well capable of beating them here.
Come on, lads.
Both sides have missed sitters here, and neither side looks comfortable. There've been pockets of quality, but isolated pockets, and neither side is defending properly ...yet, despite the standard of attackers on view, chances have been few. It's been strange, basically, and Argentina in particular need to make a change or two because Messi and Aguero are basically not playing.
Half-time: Argentina 0-0 Croatia
Lovely from Modric, a raking pass finding Rebic galloping away! But his first touch is nonsense, the ball catching under his feet so he's forced to check ... to waft a curler plenty wide.
There's not been much quality, but that's been militated to significant degree by the quantity of nasty tackles. Only one booking is odd.
There shall be two added minutes.
Meza flies at Vrsaljko, flying through the air to land on his trailing leg. That looked a right sair yin, but neither ref nor VAR have a strong opinion on the matter.
Sampaoli is getting eggy on the touchline, stomping up and down. Sadly, though, he's wearing a jacket and not a muscle shirt - but there's time yet.
Perisic turns up on the right and swings a ball to the far post, where Salvio runs him out of it, just about. They're nurturing a nice little piece of animus, these two, which augurs well for the second half.
There are so many good players on the pitch, doing so few good things. It's a thrill of sorts. Sorry, that's all I've got.
Rebic races into a challenge with Salvio and spins so he can stamp on him; cunning. He's booked, and Sampaoli is urging the ref to check VAR to see if it's a red. It isn't.
Rebic flies into a challenge with Mercado in pursuit of an aerial ball, ploughing through him; he's somehow penalised but not booked, and there's a pause while treatment is administered.
OH! OH! Vrsaljko is given an aeon to lift a ball to the back post, Argentina step up because they can't be arsed defending properly, and Mandzkic is there, alone and palely loitering! But he dives to head wide! He looks totally baffled by it all, and well he might.
Argentina have Dybala and Banega on the bench. Both would be handy here.
WHAT A MISS! OH DEAR DEAR ME WHAT A MISS! A pass is lifted down the left by Acuna, Vrsaljko makes a hash of it, knocking it into the middle, and so does Lovren, letting Salvio pinch it off him and feed Perez while Subasic wanders about like he's at Woodstock. But Perez, 10 yards out, passes a finish into the side-netting. Oh, mate!
Messi gets on the ball out on the right and looks to lift one of his special balls into the box for Ageuro - he is such an incredible passer - but this time he doesn't measure it well and Subasic claims.
But here's Aguero, breaking down the left and linking with Perez before teasing Vida. He goes down the side of him, looks to cross, should cross, doesn't cross, then works another opportunity and wins the corner. Meza sticks it into the side-netting.
I'm not certain Aguero has touched the ball yet.
Things have gone a little quiet so Rebic injects some pace down the right, putting the ball one side of Acuna and skating around the other. But he can't find Mandzukic, and the attack breaks down.
Argentina boust forward and from the left, Acuna tries a cross, curling it onto the top of the bar instead. "Sometimes you get lucky," notes Steve Wilson; "And sometimes you don't", insights Mark Lawrenson. He is such a wag.
Caballero sells Tagliafico short, but as Mandzukic charges in, he fouls the defender. Argentina look clueless at the back.
Perez drives at the Croatia back four and Brozovic shoves him over from behind; no foul, apparently, so Mascherano, naturally, shows him what one is, shoving Modric to the ground. It had to be done.
Messi comes deep and takes the ball from Mercado, performing a lovely pirouette. Nothing comes of it, but it is my obligation to note his every move.
Perez and Rakitic tank into a fifty-fifty and base one another; lovely stuff. Rakitic spends a little time relaxing on the grass, but now we're back underway.
Argentina are into this now, moving the ball as Croatia sit back. The technical level in this game should be the highest we've seen since Spain-Portugal.
Here come Argentina again, Salvio down the right cutting back a lovely pass for Meza, who drives with his laces, only for Lovren to stretch into a desperate block. Things are getting tasty...
First flash of Argentina, the ball moving out left to Acuan and then inside for Perez, who stabs a lush pass over the top looking for Messi ... he can't quite reach it.
Lovely from Rakiitic, lifting a ball over the top of the Argentina defence and out wide for Rebic, who is all alone. What are Argentina thinking? he knocks in a cross, but Tagliafico recovers well to inch in front of Mandzukic and head away.
Agentia look acceptable in possession, even if Otamendi, as the middle man in the back three, is having too much of it. Their problem is going be defending, but while I whitter, Mandzukic lays the ball back for Modric, to have his standing foot trodden on by Tagliafico. An eye for an eye, how biblical.
Mandzukic chases Otamendi as he moves the ball out of defence, treading on his standing foot. He does well to escape a booking for that.
The corner comes to nothing.
Croatia string a few passes together. Currently, Mandzukic has put himself on Tagliafico ... but that's not important because Croatia break and Perisic runs at Mercado, swaying in then out and dragging a cross-shot that Caballero has to tip around the post! Croatia are playing three up against Argentina's back three, the numbers made up by the wingers. This is going to be great!
Argentina have started aggressively, dominating possession such that it is. Imagine having to come back to the dressing room after a poor performance and face Jorge Sampaoli, the human piranha.
BBC have literally given Mark Lawrenson this game.
AWAY WE GO!
I am so amped for this. You may have been wondering.
Hands are slapped.
Messi rubs his eyes during the anthem. He looks pensive-on-the-verge-of-tears. He doesn't want to overthink this - he just needs to do what he does. As he'd know if he'd ever played the game.
The players are in the tunnel ... AND HERE THEY COME!
Look at the shinguards!
I wonder if Croatia see that Argentina defence and fancy sticking another striker up there with Mandzukic. three at the back is all very well when you've one man to mark, but very different with two. Of course, the other way to beat the formation is out wide, and Croatia have two proper wingers - though they might want two men attacking their crosses. We shall see.
Cesc Fabregas is rhapsodising Luka Modric. But I wonder how much use he'll be as a number 10 because you want him with the game in front of him, not on the half-turn. On the other hand, as Fabregas says, he can now do what he wants. Fabregas then says he preferred the number 10 position, and he did manage to come onto the play from there, scoring far more regularly.
I wonder if Messi will find more space playing slightly to the right of Aguero. Against Iceland, he was right in the middle of the pitch and easy to pick up; tonight, he'll be looking for the space between full-back and centre-back. And he'll also have more opportunity to run with the ball, simply because there won't be 17 defenders in his face every time he scratches his arse.
I wonder if Croatia have made plans for Messi, and that's why Brozovic is playing. Surely they won't have simply backed themselves to be better ... surely.
That hat has got to be a dumping offence.
He says it stings every time he sees Mario Gotze's winner from the last World Cup final. I'll bet.
Well hello! Pablo Zabaleta is in the BBC studio.
I must confess, I do find it slightly odd that there's no place for Angel di Maria in the Argentina XI. It's not going to be tough in midfield, it's going to be a passing game, and I just don't see Mascherano mixing it with Rakitic and Modric.
Some pre-match reading, should you fancy...
They're playing in a disco ball! Hellsyeah!
A pictorial representation...
Jorge Sampaoli has had enough: out go Rojo, Biglia and Di Maria; in come Mercado, Perez and Acuna. And there's also a change of strategy: Saturday's frankly useless 4-2-3-1 is now a more dynamic 3-4-2-1. I won't be perfect, because Mascherano, done ages ago, is in the middle of midfield, and the defence is still dodgy, but there's legs in this XI and if it helps free Messi, then it's worth it; hell, anything is worth that.
And here's yon Argentina team...
It's actually hard to see how Argentina are getting near Croatia in midfield ... but it's equally hard to see how Dejan Lovren is getting near Lionel Messi, so.
So, Croatia make one change from the team which schlepped to victory over Nigeria: Brozovic comes into midfield, in place of Kramaric, who played up front, which is to say that they're playing more of a 4-2-3-1 than a 4-4-2, and also that Modric will play slightly further forward tonight.
...how absolutely dare they.
Argentina don't seem to have let us know yet...
Responsible for the mankind's joy tonight are:
Evening all, and welcome to the biggest match of the World Cup so far. Argentina need this; Lionel Messi needs this; but so do Croatia.
It's true that Argentina could lose tonight and still qualify for the last 16, but they're absolutely desperate for some form. If Croatia beat them, it'll take a major effort to turn things around. And the hope is that it'll be fun to watch them both try; both teams have brilliant attacking players, and it's hard to see either sitting back; but we've said that before, haven't we.
This is going to be great ... maybe.