FC Barcelona vs. AC Milan

El campeón inició la defensa del título de Champions League.

Dos viajeros observan el panel de salidas en el aeropuerto de El Prat (Barcelona). EFE/Archivo
Dos viajeros observan el panel de salidas en el aeropuerto de El Prat (Barcelona). EFE/Archivo
Dos viajeros observan el panel de salidas en el aeropuerto de El Prat (Barcelona). EFE/Archivo
El lateral defiende el buen arrque de la selección española en el Mundial y a su compañero en el Barcelona.
Jordi Alba no entiende las críticas ni a España ni a Messi: "Esperad para dar palos"
El lateral defiende el buen arrque de la selección española en el Mundial y a su compañero en el Barcelona.
The Spain international says he will be happy to speak with Blaugrana vice-president Jordi Mestre regarding the Atletico Madrid striker's announcement
Pique welcomes discussion with Barcelona board over Griezmann transfer saga
The Spain international says he will be happy to speak with Blaugrana vice-president Jordi Mestre regarding the Atletico Madrid striker's announcement
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
‘Messi is not Maradona’ - Why Leo can’t win the World Cup all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
‘Messi is not Maradona’ - Why Leo can’t win the World Cup all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
‘Messi is not Maradona’ - Why Leo can’t win the World Cup all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
‘Messi is not Maradona’ - Why Leo can’t win the World Cup all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
‘Messi is not Maradona’ - Why Leo can’t win the World Cup all alone
The Barcelona forward is charged with leading the Albiceleste to glory at Russia 2018, but it is unfair to expect him to win the tournament all alone
The Real Madrid and Spain defender considers a domestic rival at Barcelona to be a better player than an illustrious World Cup winner from 1986
'Maradona is light years behind Messi' - Sergio Ramos hits back at Argentina legend over Godin jibe
The Real Madrid and Spain defender considers a domestic rival at Barcelona to be a better player than an illustrious World Cup winner from 1986
GRAF4665. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4665. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4665. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4664. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4664. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4664. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4663. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4663. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4663. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4661. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4661. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4661. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4659. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4659. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
GRAF4659. BARCELONA (ESPAÑA), 21/06/2018.- La Fundación Blueproject presentó hoy en Barcelona la exposición colectiva "STILL BLUE", con obras de Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Mark Tansey, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Howard Hodgkin, Penck A.R. y Jörg Immendorf. EFE/ Enric Fontcuberta.
​Com as possíveis saídas de alguns jogadores importantes, o Flamengo precisa ir ao mercado para repor as faltas. ​O mais cotado para chegar no Flamengo, neste momento, é o atacante Vitinho, do CSKA. Mas além dele, um outro nome surgiu nesta quarta-feira. Trata-se do zagueiro Dario Aímar, do Barcelona de Guayaquil. Segundo o empresário dele, Miguel Coronel, o defensor tem chance de vestir a camisa rubro-negra, nesta temporada. ''Ele pode ir para o Brasil ou para a Espanha. Estamos aguardando a...
Mercado: Empresário de jogador revela conversas com o Flamengo
​Com as possíveis saídas de alguns jogadores importantes, o Flamengo precisa ir ao mercado para repor as faltas. ​O mais cotado para chegar no Flamengo, neste momento, é o atacante Vitinho, do CSKA. Mas além dele, um outro nome surgiu nesta quarta-feira. Trata-se do zagueiro Dario Aímar, do Barcelona de Guayaquil. Segundo o empresário dele, Miguel Coronel, o defensor tem chance de vestir a camisa rubro-negra, nesta temporada. ''Ele pode ir para o Brasil ou para a Espanha. Estamos aguardando a...
​Com as possíveis saídas de alguns jogadores importantes, o Flamengo precisa ir ao mercado para repor as faltas. ​O mais cotado para chegar no Flamengo, neste momento, é o atacante Vitinho, do CSKA. Mas além dele, um outro nome surgiu nesta quarta-feira. Trata-se do zagueiro Dario Aímar, do Barcelona de Guayaquil. Segundo o empresário dele, Miguel Coronel, o defensor tem chance de vestir a camisa rubro-negra, nesta temporada. ''Ele pode ir para o Brasil ou para a Espanha. Estamos aguardando a...
Mercado: Empresário de jogador revela conversas com o Flamengo
​Com as possíveis saídas de alguns jogadores importantes, o Flamengo precisa ir ao mercado para repor as faltas. ​O mais cotado para chegar no Flamengo, neste momento, é o atacante Vitinho, do CSKA. Mas além dele, um outro nome surgiu nesta quarta-feira. Trata-se do zagueiro Dario Aímar, do Barcelona de Guayaquil. Segundo o empresário dele, Miguel Coronel, o defensor tem chance de vestir a camisa rubro-negra, nesta temporada. ''Ele pode ir para o Brasil ou para a Espanha. Estamos aguardando a...
Meio-campista croata é companheiro do craque do Barcelona, e o enfrentará na Copa do Mundo nesta tarde
Rakitic exalta "o melhor da história e argentino mais orgulhoso", mas pede: "Que Messi não seja feliz contra nós"
Meio-campista croata é companheiro do craque do Barcelona, e o enfrentará na Copa do Mundo nesta tarde
Meio-campista croata é companheiro do craque do Barcelona, e o enfrentará na Copa do Mundo nesta tarde
Rakitic exalta "o melhor da história e argentino mais orgulhoso", mas pede: "Que Messi não seja feliz contra nós"
Meio-campista croata é companheiro do craque do Barcelona, e o enfrentará na Copa do Mundo nesta tarde
El púgil dominicano residente en Barcelona, Abigail Medina 'Bebe' (calzón negro), y el francés Jeremi Parodi en el combate por el Campeonato de Europa en la categoría supergallo disputado en el Gran Canaria Arena, en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria., en 2016. EFE/Archivo
El púgil dominicano residente en Barcelona, Abigail Medina 'Bebe' (calzón negro), y el francés Jeremi Parodi en el combate por el Campeonato de Europa en la categoría supergallo disputado en el Gran Canaria Arena, en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria., en 2016. EFE/Archivo
El púgil dominicano residente en Barcelona, Abigail Medina 'Bebe' (calzón negro), y el francés Jeremi Parodi en el combate por el Campeonato de Europa en la categoría supergallo disputado en el Gran Canaria Arena, en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria., en 2016. EFE/Archivo
Después de meses de rumores y noticias sobre el posible fichaje de Lenglet por le ​Barcelona, parece que hay fecha definitiva para que el jugador francés acabe vistiendo los colores azulgranas. Según Sport, el Barça pagará la cláusula de rescisión el próximo 1 de julio. La fecha no es casual, coincidirá con el inicio del ejercicio económico. Será entonces cuando el Barcelona pague los 35 millones de euros que cuesta liberar al jugador de su contrato con el Sevilla. La operación, cuenta con el...
MERCADO | El Barça pagará la cláusula de Lenglet en cuanto abra el mercado
Después de meses de rumores y noticias sobre el posible fichaje de Lenglet por le ​Barcelona, parece que hay fecha definitiva para que el jugador francés acabe vistiendo los colores azulgranas. Según Sport, el Barça pagará la cláusula de rescisión el próximo 1 de julio. La fecha no es casual, coincidirá con el inicio del ejercicio económico. Será entonces cuando el Barcelona pague los 35 millones de euros que cuesta liberar al jugador de su contrato con el Sevilla. La operación, cuenta con el...
Después de meses de rumores y noticias sobre el posible fichaje de Lenglet por le ​Barcelona, parece que hay fecha definitiva para que el jugador francés acabe vistiendo los colores azulgranas. Según Sport, el Barça pagará la cláusula de rescisión el próximo 1 de julio. La fecha no es casual, coincidirá con el inicio del ejercicio económico. Será entonces cuando el Barcelona pague los 35 millones de euros que cuesta liberar al jugador de su contrato con el Sevilla. La operación, cuenta con el...
MERCADO | El Barça pagará la cláusula de Lenglet en cuanto abra el mercado
Después de meses de rumores y noticias sobre el posible fichaje de Lenglet por le ​Barcelona, parece que hay fecha definitiva para que el jugador francés acabe vistiendo los colores azulgranas. Según Sport, el Barça pagará la cláusula de rescisión el próximo 1 de julio. La fecha no es casual, coincidirá con el inicio del ejercicio económico. Será entonces cuando el Barcelona pague los 35 millones de euros que cuesta liberar al jugador de su contrato con el Sevilla. La operación, cuenta con el...
<p>The 31-year-old defender, who is Colombian singer Shakira’s boyfriend, played in the opening game draw against Switzerland. Currently plying his trade at FC Barcelona, he started out as a striker at Manchester United. (PHOTO: AP) </p>
Gerard Piqué (Spain)

The 31-year-old defender, who is Colombian singer Shakira’s boyfriend, played in the opening game draw against Switzerland. Currently plying his trade at FC Barcelona, he started out as a striker at Manchester United. (PHOTO: AP)

​El ​Barcelona se ha llevado un chasco grande con la decisión de Griezmann de quedarse en el Atlético de Madrid. Ante este hecho, el club azulgrana ha cambiado de objetivo prioritario para este mercado de verano. Miralem Pjanic es el hombre que el Barça quiere incorporar a su centro del campo. El bosnio interesa mucho en Barcelona, pero la Juventus, su actual club, no pondrá nada fácil su salida. Además, al FC Barcelona le ha salido un duro competidor para hacerse con Pjanic. Juega en la...
MERCADO | El grande europeo que le disputará el fichaje de Pjanic al Barça
​El ​Barcelona se ha llevado un chasco grande con la decisión de Griezmann de quedarse en el Atlético de Madrid. Ante este hecho, el club azulgrana ha cambiado de objetivo prioritario para este mercado de verano. Miralem Pjanic es el hombre que el Barça quiere incorporar a su centro del campo. El bosnio interesa mucho en Barcelona, pero la Juventus, su actual club, no pondrá nada fácil su salida. Además, al FC Barcelona le ha salido un duro competidor para hacerse con Pjanic. Juega en la...
​El ​Barcelona se ha llevado un chasco grande con la decisión de Griezmann de quedarse en el Atlético de Madrid. Ante este hecho, el club azulgrana ha cambiado de objetivo prioritario para este mercado de verano. Miralem Pjanic es el hombre que el Barça quiere incorporar a su centro del campo. El bosnio interesa mucho en Barcelona, pero la Juventus, su actual club, no pondrá nada fácil su salida. Además, al FC Barcelona le ha salido un duro competidor para hacerse con Pjanic. Juega en la...
MERCADO | El grande europeo que le disputará el fichaje de Pjanic al Barça
​El ​Barcelona se ha llevado un chasco grande con la decisión de Griezmann de quedarse en el Atlético de Madrid. Ante este hecho, el club azulgrana ha cambiado de objetivo prioritario para este mercado de verano. Miralem Pjanic es el hombre que el Barça quiere incorporar a su centro del campo. El bosnio interesa mucho en Barcelona, pero la Juventus, su actual club, no pondrá nada fácil su salida. Además, al FC Barcelona le ha salido un duro competidor para hacerse con Pjanic. Juega en la...
El lateral culé espera una renovación aunque desde la concentración del Mundial de Rusia 2018 deja claro que "no me veo fuera".
Jordi Alba: "Me quedaría toda la vida en el Barcelona pero es decisión del club"
El lateral culé espera una renovación aunque desde la concentración del Mundial de Rusia 2018 deja claro que "no me veo fuera".
​Luego de su destacada participación en el partido ante Alemania y tras los buenos momentos que ha vivido en el Tri, mucho se ha hablado acerca de la transferencia de Hirving Lozano al ​Barcelona. Sin embargo, un pequeño detalle podría truncar el fichaje. ¡No te olvides de seguirnos también en nuestra cuenta de Instagram, @90min_es! De acuerdo con información del medio ESPN, sí existe interés por parte del conjunto blaugrana por el 'Chucky'; no obstante, el traspaso no se podrá concretar, al...
NO VA MÁS | La razón por la que el "Chucky" Lozano no fichará por el Barcelona
​Luego de su destacada participación en el partido ante Alemania y tras los buenos momentos que ha vivido en el Tri, mucho se ha hablado acerca de la transferencia de Hirving Lozano al ​Barcelona. Sin embargo, un pequeño detalle podría truncar el fichaje. ¡No te olvides de seguirnos también en nuestra cuenta de Instagram, @90min_es! De acuerdo con información del medio ESPN, sí existe interés por parte del conjunto blaugrana por el 'Chucky'; no obstante, el traspaso no se podrá concretar, al...
​Luego de su destacada participación en el partido ante Alemania y tras los buenos momentos que ha vivido en el Tri, mucho se ha hablado acerca de la transferencia de Hirving Lozano al ​Barcelona. Sin embargo, un pequeño detalle podría truncar el fichaje. ¡No te olvides de seguirnos también en nuestra cuenta de Instagram, @90min_es! De acuerdo con información del medio ESPN, sí existe interés por parte del conjunto blaugrana por el 'Chucky'; no obstante, el traspaso no se podrá concretar, al...
NO VA MÁS | La razón por la que el "Chucky" Lozano no fichará por el Barcelona
​Luego de su destacada participación en el partido ante Alemania y tras los buenos momentos que ha vivido en el Tri, mucho se ha hablado acerca de la transferencia de Hirving Lozano al ​Barcelona. Sin embargo, un pequeño detalle podría truncar el fichaje. ¡No te olvides de seguirnos también en nuestra cuenta de Instagram, @90min_es! De acuerdo con información del medio ESPN, sí existe interés por parte del conjunto blaugrana por el 'Chucky'; no obstante, el traspaso no se podrá concretar, al...
Sede de CaixaBank en Barcelona. EFE/Archivo
Sede de CaixaBank en Barcelona. EFE/Archivo
Sede de CaixaBank en Barcelona. EFE/Archivo
Con más títulos ganados que partidos jugados con el ​Barcelona, Douglas no romperá su récord y volverá a salir cedido una temporada más, Esta vez, según la información recogida por Mundo Deportivo desde Francia, el destino será el Nantes de la Ligue 1. Esta temporada ha estado cedido en el Benfica, pero no ha tenido apenas oportunidades y ya durante el otoño se habló de la intención del club lisboeta de devolver al jugador la Barcelona. El jugador no debutó en la Liga NOS hasta bien entrado...
OTRA VEZ | Douglas, muy cerca de marcharse del FC Barcelona
Con más títulos ganados que partidos jugados con el ​Barcelona, Douglas no romperá su récord y volverá a salir cedido una temporada más, Esta vez, según la información recogida por Mundo Deportivo desde Francia, el destino será el Nantes de la Ligue 1. Esta temporada ha estado cedido en el Benfica, pero no ha tenido apenas oportunidades y ya durante el otoño se habló de la intención del club lisboeta de devolver al jugador la Barcelona. El jugador no debutó en la Liga NOS hasta bien entrado...
Con más títulos ganados que partidos jugados con el ​Barcelona, Douglas no romperá su récord y volverá a salir cedido una temporada más, Esta vez, según la información recogida por Mundo Deportivo desde Francia, el destino será el Nantes de la Ligue 1. Esta temporada ha estado cedido en el Benfica, pero no ha tenido apenas oportunidades y ya durante el otoño se habló de la intención del club lisboeta de devolver al jugador la Barcelona. El jugador no debutó en la Liga NOS hasta bien entrado...
OTRA VEZ | Douglas, muy cerca de marcharse del FC Barcelona
Con más títulos ganados que partidos jugados con el ​Barcelona, Douglas no romperá su récord y volverá a salir cedido una temporada más, Esta vez, según la información recogida por Mundo Deportivo desde Francia, el destino será el Nantes de la Ligue 1. Esta temporada ha estado cedido en el Benfica, pero no ha tenido apenas oportunidades y ya durante el otoño se habló de la intención del club lisboeta de devolver al jugador la Barcelona. El jugador no debutó en la Liga NOS hasta bien entrado...
​La negativa de Griezmann ha cambiado los planes del club azulgrana en materia de fichajes, pero lo que a priori parecía una mala noticia puede llegar a ser un gran alivio para el Barcelona. El ​FC Barcelona se ha llevado el primer revés del mercado de fichajes después de que Antoine Griezmann anunciase que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid cuando muchos ya le veían jugando de azulgrana la próxima temporada. Sin embargo, según apuntan desde el diario Sport, esta negativa del francés ha...
Las razones por las que el FC Barcelona está más tranquilo tras el 'no' de Griezmann
​La negativa de Griezmann ha cambiado los planes del club azulgrana en materia de fichajes, pero lo que a priori parecía una mala noticia puede llegar a ser un gran alivio para el Barcelona. El ​FC Barcelona se ha llevado el primer revés del mercado de fichajes después de que Antoine Griezmann anunciase que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid cuando muchos ya le veían jugando de azulgrana la próxima temporada. Sin embargo, según apuntan desde el diario Sport, esta negativa del francés ha...
​La negativa de Griezmann ha cambiado los planes del club azulgrana en materia de fichajes, pero lo que a priori parecía una mala noticia puede llegar a ser un gran alivio para el Barcelona. El ​FC Barcelona se ha llevado el primer revés del mercado de fichajes después de que Antoine Griezmann anunciase que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid cuando muchos ya le veían jugando de azulgrana la próxima temporada. Sin embargo, según apuntan desde el diario Sport, esta negativa del francés ha...
Las razones por las que el FC Barcelona está más tranquilo tras el 'no' de Griezmann
​La negativa de Griezmann ha cambiado los planes del club azulgrana en materia de fichajes, pero lo que a priori parecía una mala noticia puede llegar a ser un gran alivio para el Barcelona. El ​FC Barcelona se ha llevado el primer revés del mercado de fichajes después de que Antoine Griezmann anunciase que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid cuando muchos ya le veían jugando de azulgrana la próxima temporada. Sin embargo, según apuntan desde el diario Sport, esta negativa del francés ha...
​La negativa de Griezmann ha cambiado los planes del club azulgrana en materia de fichajes, pero lo que a priori parecía una mala noticia puede llegar a ser un gran alivio para el Barcelona. El ​FC Barcelona se ha llevado el primer revés del mercado de fichajes después de que Antoine Griezmann anunciase que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid cuando muchos ya le veían jugando de azulgrana la próxima temporada. Sin embargo, según apuntan desde el diario Sport, esta negativa del francés ha...
Las razones por las que el FC Barcelona está más tranquilo tras el 'no' de Griezmann
​La negativa de Griezmann ha cambiado los planes del club azulgrana en materia de fichajes, pero lo que a priori parecía una mala noticia puede llegar a ser un gran alivio para el Barcelona. El ​FC Barcelona se ha llevado el primer revés del mercado de fichajes después de que Antoine Griezmann anunciase que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid cuando muchos ya le veían jugando de azulgrana la próxima temporada. Sin embargo, según apuntan desde el diario Sport, esta negativa del francés ha...
​Sigue aumentando la polémica tras la emisión del documental 'La Decisión' en el que Griezmann desveló que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid. Un programa producido por una empresa que controla ​Gerard Piqué, que estaba al tanto de su grabación. Precisamente esto no sentó nada bien a la directiva del ​FC Barcelona y así se lo hizo saber durante la presentación de Abidal como nuevo secretario técnico del club. Y es que Jordi Mestre, el vicepresidente deportivo, dijo que "la participación de...
POLÉMICA | La desafiante respuesta de Piqué a Mestre tras el toque de la directiva del Barça
​Sigue aumentando la polémica tras la emisión del documental 'La Decisión' en el que Griezmann desveló que se quedaba en el Atlético de Madrid. Un programa producido por una empresa que controla ​Gerard Piqué, que estaba al tanto de su grabación. Precisamente esto no sentó nada bien a la directiva del ​FC Barcelona y así se lo hizo saber durante la presentación de Abidal como nuevo secretario técnico del club. Y es que Jordi Mestre, el vicepresidente deportivo, dijo que "la participación de...
Imagen de instalaciones eléctricas de la filial de Endesa Fecsa tomadas en Barcelona el 20 de diciembre de 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea
España devolverá a la CNMC la gestión de los peajes eléctricos
Imagen de instalaciones eléctricas de la filial de Endesa Fecsa tomadas en Barcelona el 20 de diciembre de 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Imagen de instalaciones eléctricas de la filial de Endesa Fecsa tomadas en Barcelona el 20 de diciembre de 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea
España devolverá a la CNMC la gestión de los peajes eléctricos
Imagen de instalaciones eléctricas de la filial de Endesa Fecsa tomadas en Barcelona el 20 de diciembre de 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea
El nuevo alcalde de Badalona (Barcelona), Álex Pastor, ayer. EFE
El nuevo alcalde de Badalona (Barcelona), Álex Pastor, ayer. EFE
El nuevo alcalde de Badalona (Barcelona), Álex Pastor, ayer. EFE
Gerard Pique hat nach dem 1:0-Sieg Spaniens über den Iran eine Entschuldigung gegenüber dem FC Barcelona verweigert. In der Causa Antoine Griezmann erkennt der Verteidiger weiterhin keinen Fehler bei sich.
Primera Division: Pique über Griezmann-Verlängerung: "Muss mich für nichts entschuldigen"
Gerard Pique hat nach dem 1:0-Sieg Spaniens über den Iran eine Entschuldigung gegenüber dem FC Barcelona verweigert. In der Causa Antoine Griezmann erkennt der Verteidiger weiterhin keinen Fehler bei sich.
What is it? The second round of matches is underway as Argentina and Croatia - the two heavyweights of Group D - go head to head. Argentina desperately need three points after drawing with Iceland in their opening match. Croatia got up and running with a 2-0 win over Nigeria. When is it? Thursday, June 21. What time is kick-off? 7pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. Where is the game being played? The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod. World Cup 2018 stadium: Nizhny Nogorod Stadium What is the team news? Stung by his failure to score a penalty and avert a disappointing draw against Iceland, the pressure is on Argentina's captain and talisman, Lionel Messi, to make amends against Croatia. Having led Argentina to an agonising World Cup final defeat to Germany four years ago, Messi turns 31 in a few days and may be playing his last World Cup. He needs to win it to rival fellow great Diego Maradona. Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has unashamedly turned to midfielder Ivan Rakitic - a team mate of Messi's at Barcelona - for tactics to stop him. For reasons hard to fathom, Argentina have looked ponderous and lacking in creative thrust throughout coach Jorge Sampaoli's year in charge despite boasting Messi and other big names like Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria. Sampaoli hasn't used the same line-up twice in the 12 games he's been in charge and he'll probably juggle again, this time starting with 22-year-old Boca Juniors forward Cristian Pavon up front with Messi. Pavon is quick, can play on the right or left and is likely to replace Di Maria. Croatia themselves are not short on top-quality players. As well as Rakitic, they also have the talented Luka Modric in midfield and towering hitman Mario Madzukic up front. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more The squads in full: Argentina Sergio Romero, Willy Caballero, Franco Armania, Gabriel Mercardo, Cristian Ansaldi, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Acuna, Javier Mascherano, Eduardo Salvio, Lucas Biglia, Giovani Lo Celso, Ever Banega, Manuel Lanzini, Maximiliano Meza, Angel Di Maria, Cristian Pavon, Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero. ----- Croatia Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb) Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg) Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka) Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) What's the latest news on the two teams? As mentioned earlier, Messi's 31st birthday this weekend is an ominous reminder Russia may be his last World Cup and final chance to emulate fellow Argentine great Maradona in lifting the ultimate prize. The diminutive Argentine captain, known as "La Pulga" (The Flea), has won every club accolade imaginable with Barcelona, but has agonisingly missed out on international trophies both at the World Cup and Copa America. For many Argentines that means that while he may currently be the world's best player, Messi has not entered the same pantheon as Maradona, "El Pibe" (The Kid), who won the 1986 World Cup. With Argentina looking dysfunctional and under-performing throughout the qualifiers, Messi's dream of matching Maradona in Russia always looked a tall order. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game But it became harder in the 64th minute of Argentina's opener when his tame penalty was saved by Iceland's goalkeeper - watched inevitably by Maradona who had lapped up adoring cries of "Dieeeeego!" beforehand. Though Maradona, 57, consoled Messi that even he too once missed five consecutive penalties and the 1-1 draw with Iceland was a collective failure, the signs are bad. "Look, I love Messi, we all do. But it's just not working out for him internationally," said Guillermo Aguirre, strolling round Nizhny Novgorod as Argentine fans begin to arrive for Thursday's game. "I want to see him lift the cup so the Maradona debate can be ended because it's not fair on him. But if I'm realistic, Brazil was the best opportunity." How the big-name strikers performed in their opening games What are the odds? Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers >> Argentina win - EVENS Draw - 9/4 Croatia win - 3/1 What's our prediction? This is going to be so tight and could go either way. Both teams have quality, but Croatia are more of a team, Argentina too reliant on one man - Messi. If Argentina are to prevail it will be thanks to a moment of brilliance from Messi or Aguero or Dybala. Croatia, though, are too organised to give them that many openings. Prediction: Argentina 1 Croatia 1. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Argentina vs Croatia: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? The second round of matches is underway as Argentina and Croatia - the two heavyweights of Group D - go head to head. Argentina desperately need three points after drawing with Iceland in their opening match. Croatia got up and running with a 2-0 win over Nigeria. When is it? Thursday, June 21. What time is kick-off? 7pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. Where is the game being played? The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod. World Cup 2018 stadium: Nizhny Nogorod Stadium What is the team news? Stung by his failure to score a penalty and avert a disappointing draw against Iceland, the pressure is on Argentina's captain and talisman, Lionel Messi, to make amends against Croatia. Having led Argentina to an agonising World Cup final defeat to Germany four years ago, Messi turns 31 in a few days and may be playing his last World Cup. He needs to win it to rival fellow great Diego Maradona. Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has unashamedly turned to midfielder Ivan Rakitic - a team mate of Messi's at Barcelona - for tactics to stop him. For reasons hard to fathom, Argentina have looked ponderous and lacking in creative thrust throughout coach Jorge Sampaoli's year in charge despite boasting Messi and other big names like Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria. Sampaoli hasn't used the same line-up twice in the 12 games he's been in charge and he'll probably juggle again, this time starting with 22-year-old Boca Juniors forward Cristian Pavon up front with Messi. Pavon is quick, can play on the right or left and is likely to replace Di Maria. Croatia themselves are not short on top-quality players. As well as Rakitic, they also have the talented Luka Modric in midfield and towering hitman Mario Madzukic up front. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more The squads in full: Argentina Sergio Romero, Willy Caballero, Franco Armania, Gabriel Mercardo, Cristian Ansaldi, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Acuna, Javier Mascherano, Eduardo Salvio, Lucas Biglia, Giovani Lo Celso, Ever Banega, Manuel Lanzini, Maximiliano Meza, Angel Di Maria, Cristian Pavon, Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero. ----- Croatia Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb) Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg) Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka) Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) What's the latest news on the two teams? As mentioned earlier, Messi's 31st birthday this weekend is an ominous reminder Russia may be his last World Cup and final chance to emulate fellow Argentine great Maradona in lifting the ultimate prize. The diminutive Argentine captain, known as "La Pulga" (The Flea), has won every club accolade imaginable with Barcelona, but has agonisingly missed out on international trophies both at the World Cup and Copa America. For many Argentines that means that while he may currently be the world's best player, Messi has not entered the same pantheon as Maradona, "El Pibe" (The Kid), who won the 1986 World Cup. With Argentina looking dysfunctional and under-performing throughout the qualifiers, Messi's dream of matching Maradona in Russia always looked a tall order. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game But it became harder in the 64th minute of Argentina's opener when his tame penalty was saved by Iceland's goalkeeper - watched inevitably by Maradona who had lapped up adoring cries of "Dieeeeego!" beforehand. Though Maradona, 57, consoled Messi that even he too once missed five consecutive penalties and the 1-1 draw with Iceland was a collective failure, the signs are bad. "Look, I love Messi, we all do. But it's just not working out for him internationally," said Guillermo Aguirre, strolling round Nizhny Novgorod as Argentine fans begin to arrive for Thursday's game. "I want to see him lift the cup so the Maradona debate can be ended because it's not fair on him. But if I'm realistic, Brazil was the best opportunity." How the big-name strikers performed in their opening games What are the odds? Guide to the best World Cup free bets and offers >> Argentina win - EVENS Draw - 9/4 Croatia win - 3/1 What's our prediction? This is going to be so tight and could go either way. Both teams have quality, but Croatia are more of a team, Argentina too reliant on one man - Messi. If Argentina are to prevail it will be thanks to a moment of brilliance from Messi or Aguero or Dybala. Croatia, though, are too organised to give them that many openings. Prediction: Argentina 1 Croatia 1. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Die Art und Weise der Griezmann-Absage sorgt in Barcelona weiter für Unruhe. Pique weist jede Schuld von sich und tut dies auch offen kund.
Gerard Pique in Causa Antoine Griezmann: "Muss mich für nichts entschuldigen"
Die Art und Weise der Griezmann-Absage sorgt in Barcelona weiter für Unruhe. Pique weist jede Schuld von sich und tut dies auch offen kund.
Argentina/Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has built a legendary stat line vs. inferior competition. Against quality opponents on large stages such as the World Cup, he has often failed to produce. It happened again vs. Croatia.
World Cup 2018: Lionel Messi a magician who has his disappearing act down cold
Argentina/Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has built a legendary stat line vs. inferior competition. Against quality opponents on large stages such as the World Cup, he has often failed to produce. It happened again vs. Croatia.
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Barcelona interested in Pogba
Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond
Gente comprando en un Carrefour en Cabrera de Mar, cerca de Barcelona. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Gente comprando en un Carrefour en Cabrera de Mar, cerca de Barcelona. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Gente comprando en un Carrefour en Cabrera de Mar, cerca de Barcelona. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Lionel Messi is as good as Cristiano Ronaldo, but Croatia's Ivan Perisic says Argentina cannot just rely on the Barcelona forward.
Perisic: Messi is the best, but Argentina do not play as a team
Lionel Messi is as good as Cristiano Ronaldo, but Croatia's Ivan Perisic says Argentina cannot just rely on the Barcelona forward.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Rakitic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Krameric and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet night for Lionel Messi so far. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Rakitic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Krameric and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet night for Lionel Messi so far. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The little prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. There were times when even Diego Maradona, a minder in place to gently ease him back when he looked like toppling out his hospitality box, put more nervous energy into this Argentina performance than the man who inherited his No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but at the mercy of the result in Friday’s Group D game between Iceland and Nigeria where a win for the Europeans would mean they and Croatia could draw their last game and both go through. There may yet be a hope for Argentina, but it felt like an ending for them when they were unable to deploy the greatest player of his age in a way that was close to meaningful on the biggest stage of all. It happened in a stadium where the Argentina supporters were the majority, led by a manager, Jorge Sampaoli, who looked clueless, and the despair in the stands was real, not confected for the television cameras. Croatia’s stars delivered, especially Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who scored the second and third goals that delivered the win after a mistake by Willy Caballero had let in Ante Rebic for the first. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado Heavy tackles, and some heavy touches – a game that always felt like it should be that much higher quality for some of the individuals involved but one which seemed to gravitate towards the lowest common denominator. For every time Rakitic swivelled in possession, or Messi tried to suck in a defender there was some merciless tackling and some bad misses. Sampaoli made three changes, with two of his additions, Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez, over 30. The 26-year-old Sporting Lisbon winger Marcos Acuna also came into the side at the expense of Angel Di Maria. For a nation that was prepared to leave the likes of Mauro Icardi at home, and Paulo Dybala and Gonzao Higuain on the bench this looked like a side short of flair. Messi was filed out on the right wing and hardly ever left his post. Behind him in a 3-4-3 system, the pace of Mercado – or lack of it – was badly exposed by Ivan Perisic early on when he forced a save out of Caballero within five minutes. It was clear from then on that it would be a high-wire act for Argentina’s new back three and so it proved. They also created chances – just for the wrong people. Maximiliano Meza had a shot deflected over and Perez missed when he had enough time to stroke the ball inside the post. In the first half it was hard to see how Sampaoli’s system was playing to the strengths of Sergio Aguero and Messi. Argentina had more of the ball but less of a clue what to do with it. By contrast, Rakitic and Luka Modric, although quiet for much of the first half, always seemed likely to spring a surprise. It was the Barcelona man’s feint that let the ball through to Sime Vrsaljko who crossed for the best Croatia chance of the opening 45 minutes. Mario Mandzukic headed wide. Mario Mandzukic couldn't bury this chance in the first half Credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn There were some men who could dish it out in both teams, including the Croatia right-sided midfielder Rebic who kicked anything in his way. It was Eintracht Frankfurt man whose instinctive finish in the second half gave Croatia the lead, and suddenly there was a full-blown crisis in this Argentina team. The reaction to the goal from Sampaoli was instructive, a mix of anger and grief, and then a quick decision: Aguero off. Higuain replaced him but by then it felt like no one on the Argentina bench knew what was the right thing any longer. The opening goal, which was a joint enterprise between Caballero’s mistake and the booming finish of Rebic who took the miscued pass from the goalkeeper on the volley above hip height and lashed it back past him. There were many whom you might have expected could make a game-changing mistake in this Argentina team but Caballero, even by his fairly ordinary perennial No 2 standards, was not the obvious choice. It was not until the third substitution that Sampaoli brought on Dybala. First he opted for Cristian Pavon a 22-year-old Boca Juniors midfielder with five caps and then eventually Perez made way for Dybala. Everyone was looking to Messi, but Messi, who has inflicted so many of these humiliations himself, already knew it was gone. Modric turned Nicolas Otamendi back and forth before pinging a second past Caballero and Argentina were in bits when they were counter- attacked for Mateo Kovacic to square the third for Rakitic. Messi was off at the final whistle, past the cameras and officials and back into his own black thoughts. 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Rakitic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Krameric and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet night for Lionel Messi so far. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The little prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. There were times when even Diego Maradona, a minder in place to gently ease him back when he looked like toppling out his hospitality box, put more nervous energy into this Argentina performance than the man who inherited his No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but at the mercy of the result in Friday’s Group D game between Iceland and Nigeria where a win for the Europeans would mean they and Croatia could draw their last game and both go through. There may yet be a hope for Argentina, but it felt like an ending for them when they were unable to deploy the greatest player of his age in a way that was close to meaningful on the biggest stage of all. It happened in a stadium where the Argentina supporters were the majority, led by a manager, Jorge Sampaoli, who looked clueless, and the despair in the stands was real, not confected for the television cameras. Croatia’s stars delivered, especially Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who scored the second and third goals that delivered the win after a mistake by Willy Caballero had let in Ante Rebic for the first. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado Heavy tackles, and some heavy touches – a game that always felt like it should be that much higher quality for some of the individuals involved but one which seemed to gravitate towards the lowest common denominator. For every time Rakitic swivelled in possession, or Messi tried to suck in a defender there was some merciless tackling and some bad misses. Sampaoli made three changes, with two of his additions, Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez, over 30. The 26-year-old Sporting Lisbon winger Marcos Acuna also came into the side at the expense of Angel Di Maria. For a nation that was prepared to leave the likes of Mauro Icardi at home, and Paulo Dybala and Gonzao Higuain on the bench this looked like a side short of flair. Messi was filed out on the right wing and hardly ever left his post. Behind him in a 3-4-3 system, the pace of Mercado – or lack of it – was badly exposed by Ivan Perisic early on when he forced a save out of Caballero within five minutes. It was clear from then on that it would be a high-wire act for Argentina’s new back three and so it proved. They also created chances – just for the wrong people. Maximiliano Meza had a shot deflected over and Perez missed when he had enough time to stroke the ball inside the post. In the first half it was hard to see how Sampaoli’s system was playing to the strengths of Sergio Aguero and Messi. Argentina had more of the ball but less of a clue what to do with it. By contrast, Rakitic and Luka Modric, although quiet for much of the first half, always seemed likely to spring a surprise. It was the Barcelona man’s feint that let the ball through to Sime Vrsaljko who crossed for the best Croatia chance of the opening 45 minutes. Mario Mandzukic headed wide. Mario Mandzukic couldn't bury this chance in the first half Credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn There were some men who could dish it out in both teams, including the Croatia right-sided midfielder Rebic who kicked anything in his way. It was Eintracht Frankfurt man whose instinctive finish in the second half gave Croatia the lead, and suddenly there was a full-blown crisis in this Argentina team. The reaction to the goal from Sampaoli was instructive, a mix of anger and grief, and then a quick decision: Aguero off. Higuain replaced him but by then it felt like no one on the Argentina bench knew what was the right thing any longer. The opening goal, which was a joint enterprise between Caballero’s mistake and the booming finish of Rebic who took the miscued pass from the goalkeeper on the volley above hip height and lashed it back past him. There were many whom you might have expected could make a game-changing mistake in this Argentina team but Caballero, even by his fairly ordinary perennial No 2 standards, was not the obvious choice. It was not until the third substitution that Sampaoli brought on Dybala. First he opted for Cristian Pavon a 22-year-old Boca Juniors midfielder with five caps and then eventually Perez made way for Dybala. Everyone was looking to Messi, but Messi, who has inflicted so many of these humiliations himself, already knew it was gone. Modric turned Nicolas Otamendi back and forth before pinging a second past Caballero and Argentina were in bits when they were counter- attacked for Mateo Kovacic to square the third for Rakitic. Messi was off at the final whistle, past the cameras and officials and back into his own black thoughts. 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Rakitic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Krameric and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet night for Lionel Messi so far. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The little prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. There were times when even Diego Maradona, a minder in place to gently ease him back when he looked like toppling out his hospitality box, put more nervous energy into this Argentina performance than the man who inherited his No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but at the mercy of the result in Friday’s Group D game between Iceland and Nigeria where a win for the Europeans would mean they and Croatia could draw their last game and both go through. There may yet be a hope for Argentina, but it felt like an ending for them when they were unable to deploy the greatest player of his age in a way that was close to meaningful on the biggest stage of all. It happened in a stadium where the Argentina supporters were the majority, led by a manager, Jorge Sampaoli, who looked clueless, and the despair in the stands was real, not confected for the television cameras. Croatia’s stars delivered, especially Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who scored the second and third goals that delivered the win after a mistake by Willy Caballero had let in Ante Rebic for the first. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado Heavy tackles, and some heavy touches – a game that always felt like it should be that much higher quality for some of the individuals involved but one which seemed to gravitate towards the lowest common denominator. For every time Rakitic swivelled in possession, or Messi tried to suck in a defender there was some merciless tackling and some bad misses. Sampaoli made three changes, with two of his additions, Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez, over 30. The 26-year-old Sporting Lisbon winger Marcos Acuna also came into the side at the expense of Angel Di Maria. For a nation that was prepared to leave the likes of Mauro Icardi at home, and Paulo Dybala and Gonzao Higuain on the bench this looked like a side short of flair. Messi was filed out on the right wing and hardly ever left his post. Behind him in a 3-4-3 system, the pace of Mercado – or lack of it – was badly exposed by Ivan Perisic early on when he forced a save out of Caballero within five minutes. It was clear from then on that it would be a high-wire act for Argentina’s new back three and so it proved. They also created chances – just for the wrong people. Maximiliano Meza had a shot deflected over and Perez missed when he had enough time to stroke the ball inside the post. In the first half it was hard to see how Sampaoli’s system was playing to the strengths of Sergio Aguero and Messi. Argentina had more of the ball but less of a clue what to do with it. By contrast, Rakitic and Luka Modric, although quiet for much of the first half, always seemed likely to spring a surprise. It was the Barcelona man’s feint that let the ball through to Sime Vrsaljko who crossed for the best Croatia chance of the opening 45 minutes. Mario Mandzukic headed wide. Mario Mandzukic couldn't bury this chance in the first half Credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn There were some men who could dish it out in both teams, including the Croatia right-sided midfielder Rebic who kicked anything in his way. It was Eintracht Frankfurt man whose instinctive finish in the second half gave Croatia the lead, and suddenly there was a full-blown crisis in this Argentina team. The reaction to the goal from Sampaoli was instructive, a mix of anger and grief, and then a quick decision: Aguero off. Higuain replaced him but by then it felt like no one on the Argentina bench knew what was the right thing any longer. The opening goal, which was a joint enterprise between Caballero’s mistake and the booming finish of Rebic who took the miscued pass from the goalkeeper on the volley above hip height and lashed it back past him. There were many whom you might have expected could make a game-changing mistake in this Argentina team but Caballero, even by his fairly ordinary perennial No 2 standards, was not the obvious choice. It was not until the third substitution that Sampaoli brought on Dybala. First he opted for Cristian Pavon a 22-year-old Boca Juniors midfielder with five caps and then eventually Perez made way for Dybala. Everyone was looking to Messi, but Messi, who has inflicted so many of these humiliations himself, already knew it was gone. Modric turned Nicolas Otamendi back and forth before pinging a second past Caballero and Argentina were in bits when they were counter- attacked for Mateo Kovacic to square the third for Rakitic. Messi was off at the final whistle, past the cameras and officials and back into his own black thoughts. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserves. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Krameric, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Rakitic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Krameric and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet night for Lionel Messi so far. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 We've noticed you're adblocking. We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Thank you for your support. Need help? Click here for instructions
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The little prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. There were times when even Diego Maradona, a minder in place to gently ease him back when he looked like toppling out his hospitality box, put more nervous energy into this Argentina performance than the man who inherited his No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but at the mercy of the result in Friday’s Group D game between Iceland and Nigeria where a win for the Europeans would mean they and Croatia could draw their last game and both go through. There may yet be a hope for Argentina, but it felt like an ending for them when they were unable to deploy the greatest player of his age in a way that was close to meaningful on the biggest stage of all. It happened in a stadium where the Argentina supporters were the majority, led by a manager, Jorge Sampaoli, who looked clueless, and the despair in the stands was real, not confected for the television cameras. Croatia’s stars delivered, especially Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic who scored the second and third goals that delivered the win after a mistake by Willy Caballero had let in Ante Rebic for the first. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado Heavy tackles, and some heavy touches – a game that always felt like it should be that much higher quality for some of the individuals involved but one which seemed to gravitate towards the lowest common denominator. For every time Rakitic swivelled in possession, or Messi tried to suck in a defender there was some merciless tackling and some bad misses. Sampaoli made three changes, with two of his additions, Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez, over 30. The 26-year-old Sporting Lisbon winger Marcos Acuna also came into the side at the expense of Angel Di Maria. For a nation that was prepared to leave the likes of Mauro Icardi at home, and Paulo Dybala and Gonzao Higuain on the bench this looked like a side short of flair. Messi was filed out on the right wing and hardly ever left his post. Behind him in a 3-4-3 system, the pace of Mercado – or lack of it – was badly exposed by Ivan Perisic early on when he forced a save out of Caballero within five minutes. It was clear from then on that it would be a high-wire act for Argentina’s new back three and so it proved. They also created chances – just for the wrong people. Maximiliano Meza had a shot deflected over and Perez missed when he had enough time to stroke the ball inside the post. In the first half it was hard to see how Sampaoli’s system was playing to the strengths of Sergio Aguero and Messi. Argentina had more of the ball but less of a clue what to do with it. By contrast, Rakitic and Luka Modric, although quiet for much of the first half, always seemed likely to spring a surprise. It was the Barcelona man’s feint that let the ball through to Sime Vrsaljko who crossed for the best Croatia chance of the opening 45 minutes. Mario Mandzukic headed wide. Mario Mandzukic couldn't bury this chance in the first half Credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn There were some men who could dish it out in both teams, including the Croatia right-sided midfielder Rebic who kicked anything in his way. It was Eintracht Frankfurt man whose instinctive finish in the second half gave Croatia the lead, and suddenly there was a full-blown crisis in this Argentina team. The reaction to the goal from Sampaoli was instructive, a mix of anger and grief, and then a quick decision: Aguero off. Higuain replaced him but by then it felt like no one on the Argentina bench knew what was the right thing any longer. The opening goal, which was a joint enterprise between Caballero’s mistake and the booming finish of Rebic who took the miscued pass from the goalkeeper on the volley above hip height and lashed it back past him. There were many whom you might have expected could make a game-changing mistake in this Argentina team but Caballero, even by his fairly ordinary perennial No 2 standards, was not the obvious choice. It was not until the third substitution that Sampaoli brought on Dybala. First he opted for Cristian Pavon a 22-year-old Boca Juniors midfielder with five caps and then eventually Perez made way for Dybala. Everyone was looking to Messi, but Messi, who has inflicted so many of these humiliations himself, already knew it was gone. Modric turned Nicolas Otamendi back and forth before pinging a second past Caballero and Argentina were in bits when they were counter- attacked for Mateo Kovacic to square the third for Rakitic. Messi was off at the final whistle, past the cameras and officials and back into his own black thoughts. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserves. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Krameric, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Rakitic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Krameric and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet night for Lionel Messi so far. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 We've noticed you're adblocking. We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Thank you for your support. Need help? Click here for instructions
The Albiceleste captain endured a miserable outing against Croatia and is set to decide his international future after the World Cup
'I just feel so sorry for Messi' - Zabaleta predicts Argentina retirement for Barcelona star
The Albiceleste captain endured a miserable outing against Croatia and is set to decide his international future after the World Cup
Deep in thought or suffering from the burden of carrying Argentina's World Cup hopes on his shoulders? That is what fans asked themselves when the camera panned to Lionel Messi during the national anthems before Argentina's 3-0 defeat to Croatia, which leaves them needing snookers to reach the knockout stages. Russia 2018 could prove 30-year-old Messi's last chance to win the World Cup, and he cut a pained expression before Thursday's nights dire team performance in which he was peripheral. Clutching a hand to his forehead, Messi looked as if he was nursing a migraine- or perhaps pent-up exasperation with the disorganised rabble he was asked to rescue. It adumbrated a frustrating evening for the Barcelona forward, as Argentina's defensive troubles reared their head throughout and goalkeeper Willy Caballero's howler was responsible for Croatia's opener. Messi is denied by Ivan Rakitic Credit: AFP As the game ran away from Argentina and a barrage of frustrated tackles flew in, Messi's shoulders slumped in dejection as he stared at another lost international tournament. Argentina Jorge Sampaoli had called on his team to not wait for Messi to drag them through the mire, but he was left too isolated and touched the ball only twice in Croatia's penalty area during the second half. Messi has now had more shots on goal than any other player so far at this World Cup with 12, but has failed to score with any of them. Messi's genius could not make up for Argentina's shortcomings Credit: AP Argentina have looked unbalanced in both of their group matches, despite an array of attacking talent that includes Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero besides Messi. It is worth remembering that Messi is the reason that Argentina, who had three different managers in a troubled qualification campaign, made it to Russia. He scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 away victory to Ecuador that ensured the two-time World Champions made it to this summer's finals. Messi was visibly anguished as the game slipped away Credit: REUTERS Speaking to BBC Sport, outstanding Croatia midfielder Luka Modric said: "I don't want to talk about other players. We are happy with our own performance. We wanted to cut out Messi receiving the ball because he is the most dangerous player. "Our collective effort in the second half was pleasing as we enjoyed more possession than in the first half. After Cabellero's mistake, our feathers were up and we scored two more goals. We were deserved winners." WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
What was wrong with Lionel Messi? Pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night
Deep in thought or suffering from the burden of carrying Argentina's World Cup hopes on his shoulders? That is what fans asked themselves when the camera panned to Lionel Messi during the national anthems before Argentina's 3-0 defeat to Croatia, which leaves them needing snookers to reach the knockout stages. Russia 2018 could prove 30-year-old Messi's last chance to win the World Cup, and he cut a pained expression before Thursday's nights dire team performance in which he was peripheral. Clutching a hand to his forehead, Messi looked as if he was nursing a migraine- or perhaps pent-up exasperation with the disorganised rabble he was asked to rescue. It adumbrated a frustrating evening for the Barcelona forward, as Argentina's defensive troubles reared their head throughout and goalkeeper Willy Caballero's howler was responsible for Croatia's opener. Messi is denied by Ivan Rakitic Credit: AFP As the game ran away from Argentina and a barrage of frustrated tackles flew in, Messi's shoulders slumped in dejection as he stared at another lost international tournament. Argentina Jorge Sampaoli had called on his team to not wait for Messi to drag them through the mire, but he was left too isolated and touched the ball only twice in Croatia's penalty area during the second half. Messi has now had more shots on goal than any other player so far at this World Cup with 12, but has failed to score with any of them. Messi's genius could not make up for Argentina's shortcomings Credit: AP Argentina have looked unbalanced in both of their group matches, despite an array of attacking talent that includes Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero besides Messi. It is worth remembering that Messi is the reason that Argentina, who had three different managers in a troubled qualification campaign, made it to Russia. He scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 away victory to Ecuador that ensured the two-time World Champions made it to this summer's finals. Messi was visibly anguished as the game slipped away Credit: REUTERS Speaking to BBC Sport, outstanding Croatia midfielder Luka Modric said: "I don't want to talk about other players. We are happy with our own performance. We wanted to cut out Messi receiving the ball because he is the most dangerous player. "Our collective effort in the second half was pleasing as we enjoyed more possession than in the first half. After Cabellero's mistake, our feathers were up and we scored two more goals. We were deserved winners." WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Deep in thought or suffering from the burden of carrying Argentina's World Cup hopes on his shoulders? That is what fans asked themselves when the camera panned to Lionel Messi during the national anthems before Argentina's 3-0 defeat to Croatia, which leaves them needing snookers to reach the knockout stages. Russia 2018 could prove 30-year-old Messi's last chance to win the World Cup, and he cut a pained expression before Thursday's nights dire team performance in which he was peripheral. Clutching a hand to his forehead, Messi looked as if he was nursing a migraine- or perhaps pent-up exasperation with the disorganised rabble he was asked to rescue. It adumbrated a frustrating evening for the Barcelona forward, as Argentina's defensive troubles reared their head throughout and goalkeeper Willy Caballero's howler was responsible for Croatia's opener. Messi is denied by Ivan Rakitic Credit: AFP As the game ran away from Argentina and a barrage of frustrated tackles flew in, Messi's shoulders slumped in dejection as he stared at another lost international tournament. Argentina Jorge Sampaoli had called on his team to not wait for Messi to drag them through the mire, but he was left too isolated and touched the ball only twice in Croatia's penalty area during the second half. Messi has now had more shots on goal than any other player so far at this World Cup with 12, but has failed to score with any of them. Messi's genius could not make up for Argentina's shortcomings Credit: AP Argentina have looked unbalanced in both of their group matches, despite an array of attacking talent that includes Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero besides Messi. It is worth remembering that Messi is the reason that Argentina, who had three different managers in a troubled qualification campaign, made it to Russia. He scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 away victory to Ecuador that ensured the two-time World Champions made it to this summer's finals. Messi was visibly anguished as the game slipped away Credit: REUTERS Speaking to BBC Sport, outstanding Croatia midfielder Luka Modric said: "I don't want to talk about other players. We are happy with our own performance. We wanted to cut out Messi receiving the ball because he is the most dangerous player. "Our collective effort in the second half was pleasing as we enjoyed more possession than in the first half. After Cabellero's mistake, our feathers were up and we scored two more goals. We were deserved winners." WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
What was wrong with Lionel Messi? Pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night
Deep in thought or suffering from the burden of carrying Argentina's World Cup hopes on his shoulders? That is what fans asked themselves when the camera panned to Lionel Messi during the national anthems before Argentina's 3-0 defeat to Croatia, which leaves them needing snookers to reach the knockout stages. Russia 2018 could prove 30-year-old Messi's last chance to win the World Cup, and he cut a pained expression before Thursday's nights dire team performance in which he was peripheral. Clutching a hand to his forehead, Messi looked as if he was nursing a migraine- or perhaps pent-up exasperation with the disorganised rabble he was asked to rescue. It adumbrated a frustrating evening for the Barcelona forward, as Argentina's defensive troubles reared their head throughout and goalkeeper Willy Caballero's howler was responsible for Croatia's opener. Messi is denied by Ivan Rakitic Credit: AFP As the game ran away from Argentina and a barrage of frustrated tackles flew in, Messi's shoulders slumped in dejection as he stared at another lost international tournament. Argentina Jorge Sampaoli had called on his team to not wait for Messi to drag them through the mire, but he was left too isolated and touched the ball only twice in Croatia's penalty area during the second half. Messi has now had more shots on goal than any other player so far at this World Cup with 12, but has failed to score with any of them. Messi's genius could not make up for Argentina's shortcomings Credit: AP Argentina have looked unbalanced in both of their group matches, despite an array of attacking talent that includes Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero besides Messi. It is worth remembering that Messi is the reason that Argentina, who had three different managers in a troubled qualification campaign, made it to Russia. He scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 away victory to Ecuador that ensured the two-time World Champions made it to this summer's finals. Messi was visibly anguished as the game slipped away Credit: REUTERS Speaking to BBC Sport, outstanding Croatia midfielder Luka Modric said: "I don't want to talk about other players. We are happy with our own performance. We wanted to cut out Messi receiving the ball because he is the most dangerous player. "Our collective effort in the second half was pleasing as we enjoyed more possession than in the first half. After Cabellero's mistake, our feathers were up and we scored two more goals. We were deserved winners." WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article

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