While Argentina wasn’t one of the favorites to win the tournament, when you have Lionel Messi on your squad, anything is possible. Though he did miss a penalty in the last World Cup game, the team was still optimistic to get out of Group D and advance in the knockout stages.
We should have known his reaction when the national anthems were being sung that this wasn’t going to end well. Messi seemed nervous as fuck.
The good thing is that even though both sides had their chances, things were 0-0 at halftime. It was anyone’s game at that point, even if Croatia seemed to have a handle on the game more than Argentina.
Until the 52nd minute when Willie Caballero committed a major mistake and gave Croatia the opportunity to take a 1-0 lead. Ante Rebic merely took the volley and squared it up to the back of the net.
Tempers started flaring, frustration was at an all-time high and yellow cards were being handed out like nobodies business.
Unfortunately, it got worse for Argentina.
In the 80th minute, Luka Modric got the ball against lazy defense and sent a strike to the bottom right corner of the post past Caballero. He wasn’t being pressed much and only had one defender when he decided to take the tough shot from outside of the box. It went in.
The dagger in the heart of Argentina came in stoppage time, as Croatia moved forward on the counter attack. It was 3-on-3 with Ivan Rakitic leading the attack, when his shot was blocked by Caballero. With the rebound, Mateo Kovacic found Rakitic again and easily put it at the back of the net for the 3-0 defeat.
It was completely demoralizing for Argentina, who had so much hope before the tournament.
At this point, Messi and company will need some prayers to make it out of Group D. It may come down to the last game, depending on what happens in the Nigeria and Iceland game tomorrow. They either need Nigeria to win or draw, so they could win out in the last game of the group stage. If Iceland wins, their chances of being eliminated will increase significantly.
This loss is the worst for the Argentinian national team in the group stage since 1958.