Futbol italiano: Juventus

Las mejores imágenes de la Juve

Juventus menjadi salah satu klub yang tertarik menggunakan jasa Milinkovic-Savic.
Ayah SMS Dukung Putranya Gabung Juventus
Juventus menjadi salah satu klub yang tertarik menggunakan jasa Milinkovic-Savic.
The former Bianconeri boss has suggested that a man offloaded to Manchester United in 2016 has struggled to justify what was a record-breaking fee
Capello: Juventus got a fantastic deal selling Paul Pogba at £89m
The former Bianconeri boss has suggested that a man offloaded to Manchester United in 2016 has struggled to justify what was a record-breaking fee
The former Bianconeri boss has suggested that a man offloaded to Manchester United in 2016 has struggled to justify what was a record-breaking fee
Capello: Juventus got a fantastic deal selling Paul Pogba at £89m
The former Bianconeri boss has suggested that a man offloaded to Manchester United in 2016 has struggled to justify what was a record-breaking fee
Linked with Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester United, Hernan Crespo believes Sergej Milinkovic-Savic can play for the very best.
Milinkovic-Savic can play for any team in Europe, says Crespo
Linked with Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester United, Hernan Crespo believes Sergej Milinkovic-Savic can play for the very best.
No sooner had Croatia swept aside Nigeria with ominous ease than Dejan Lovren, their defensive linchpin, disclosed that they were receiving pep talks from the celebrated 1998 team in a quest for another surge to the World Cup semi-finals or beyond. 20 years ago, Golden Boot winner Davor Suker and his cohort shredded the form guide by finishing third in France. This time, Croatia boast a smorgasbord of talent to suggest that a repeat appearance in the last four would be anything but unlikely. From four-time Champions League winner Luka Modric to Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, from Liverpool stalwart Lovren to Juventus target man Mario Mandzukic, the star talents have aligned as never before. “The boys of ’98 have spoken to us,” Lovren said. “Drazen Ladic, who is on our staff here, was the goalkeeper then. One of our physiotherapists was involved, too. We watched a video of how they made such a big success with the national team. We did it for motivation. We know what we want, and expectations are really high. Even those players talk of how we are the best generation the country has had. True, when you see the ability throughout our squad, it is unbelievable. With all that, though, you sometimes need a little luck as well.” Davor Suker celebrates scoring against France in the semi-final of the 1998 France World Cup Credit: Omar Torres/AFP Croatia profited from a fair slice of luck for the goal that kick-started their campaign in Kaliningrad, as Mandzukic’s header flicked off the shin of Oghenekaro Etebo and into the net. From there, they never looked anything less than serene, as Modric’s penalty quelled any last resistance. Having watched Iceland keep Lionel Messi at bay, Lovren had little doubt that he and his back four could manage the same when Croatia confront Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday. “We have already played them before,” he reflected, in reference to a 2-1 defeat at Upton Park in 2014. On that occasion, unlike in Moscow, Messi scored his penalty with aplomb. “We know how to play against the big teams and we are not scared of them. They have maybe the best player in the world in Messi, but Iceland showed how to defend against him. It’s an honour, of course, to face him. In the Champions League final, I played against Cristiano Ronaldo, two weeks ago it was Neymar, now it’s Messi. That’s something you want to do from childhood.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Dejan Lovren reveals inspiration behind Croatia's winning start to 2018 World Cup campaign
No sooner had Croatia swept aside Nigeria with ominous ease than Dejan Lovren, their defensive linchpin, disclosed that they were receiving pep talks from the celebrated 1998 team in a quest for another surge to the World Cup semi-finals or beyond. 20 years ago, Golden Boot winner Davor Suker and his cohort shredded the form guide by finishing third in France. This time, Croatia boast a smorgasbord of talent to suggest that a repeat appearance in the last four would be anything but unlikely. From four-time Champions League winner Luka Modric to Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, from Liverpool stalwart Lovren to Juventus target man Mario Mandzukic, the star talents have aligned as never before. “The boys of ’98 have spoken to us,” Lovren said. “Drazen Ladic, who is on our staff here, was the goalkeeper then. One of our physiotherapists was involved, too. We watched a video of how they made such a big success with the national team. We did it for motivation. We know what we want, and expectations are really high. Even those players talk of how we are the best generation the country has had. True, when you see the ability throughout our squad, it is unbelievable. With all that, though, you sometimes need a little luck as well.” Davor Suker celebrates scoring against France in the semi-final of the 1998 France World Cup Credit: Omar Torres/AFP Croatia profited from a fair slice of luck for the goal that kick-started their campaign in Kaliningrad, as Mandzukic’s header flicked off the shin of Oghenekaro Etebo and into the net. From there, they never looked anything less than serene, as Modric’s penalty quelled any last resistance. Having watched Iceland keep Lionel Messi at bay, Lovren had little doubt that he and his back four could manage the same when Croatia confront Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday. “We have already played them before,” he reflected, in reference to a 2-1 defeat at Upton Park in 2014. On that occasion, unlike in Moscow, Messi scored his penalty with aplomb. “We know how to play against the big teams and we are not scared of them. They have maybe the best player in the world in Messi, but Iceland showed how to defend against him. It’s an honour, of course, to face him. In the Champions League final, I played against Cristiano Ronaldo, two weeks ago it was Neymar, now it’s Messi. That’s something you want to do from childhood.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
No sooner had Croatia swept aside Nigeria with ominous ease than Dejan Lovren, their defensive linchpin, disclosed that they were receiving pep talks from the celebrated 1998 team in a quest for another surge to the World Cup semi-finals or beyond. 20 years ago, Golden Boot winner Davor Suker and his cohort shredded the form guide by finishing third in France. This time, Croatia boast a smorgasbord of talent to suggest that a repeat appearance in the last four would be anything but unlikely. From four-time Champions League winner Luka Modric to Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, from Liverpool stalwart Lovren to Juventus target man Mario Mandzukic, the star talents have aligned as never before. “The boys of ’98 have spoken to us,” Lovren said. “Drazen Ladic, who is on our staff here, was the goalkeeper then. One of our physiotherapists was involved, too. We watched a video of how they made such a big success with the national team. We did it for motivation. We know what we want, and expectations are really high. Even those players talk of how we are the best generation the country has had. True, when you see the ability throughout our squad, it is unbelievable. With all that, though, you sometimes need a little luck as well.” Davor Suker celebrates scoring against France in the semi-final of the 1998 France World Cup Credit: Omar Torres/AFP Croatia profited from a fair slice of luck for the goal that kick-started their campaign in Kaliningrad, as Mandzukic’s header flicked off the shin of Oghenekaro Etebo and into the net. From there, they never looked anything less than serene, as Modric’s penalty quelled any last resistance. Having watched Iceland keep Lionel Messi at bay, Lovren had little doubt that he and his back four could manage the same when Croatia confront Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday. “We have already played them before,” he reflected, in reference to a 2-1 defeat at Upton Park in 2014. On that occasion, unlike in Moscow, Messi scored his penalty with aplomb. “We know how to play against the big teams and we are not scared of them. They have maybe the best player in the world in Messi, but Iceland showed how to defend against him. It’s an honour, of course, to face him. In the Champions League final, I played against Cristiano Ronaldo, two weeks ago it was Neymar, now it’s Messi. That’s something you want to do from childhood.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Dejan Lovren reveals inspiration behind Croatia's winning start to 2018 World Cup campaign
No sooner had Croatia swept aside Nigeria with ominous ease than Dejan Lovren, their defensive linchpin, disclosed that they were receiving pep talks from the celebrated 1998 team in a quest for another surge to the World Cup semi-finals or beyond. 20 years ago, Golden Boot winner Davor Suker and his cohort shredded the form guide by finishing third in France. This time, Croatia boast a smorgasbord of talent to suggest that a repeat appearance in the last four would be anything but unlikely. From four-time Champions League winner Luka Modric to Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, from Liverpool stalwart Lovren to Juventus target man Mario Mandzukic, the star talents have aligned as never before. “The boys of ’98 have spoken to us,” Lovren said. “Drazen Ladic, who is on our staff here, was the goalkeeper then. One of our physiotherapists was involved, too. We watched a video of how they made such a big success with the national team. We did it for motivation. We know what we want, and expectations are really high. Even those players talk of how we are the best generation the country has had. True, when you see the ability throughout our squad, it is unbelievable. With all that, though, you sometimes need a little luck as well.” Davor Suker celebrates scoring against France in the semi-final of the 1998 France World Cup Credit: Omar Torres/AFP Croatia profited from a fair slice of luck for the goal that kick-started their campaign in Kaliningrad, as Mandzukic’s header flicked off the shin of Oghenekaro Etebo and into the net. From there, they never looked anything less than serene, as Modric’s penalty quelled any last resistance. Having watched Iceland keep Lionel Messi at bay, Lovren had little doubt that he and his back four could manage the same when Croatia confront Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday. “We have already played them before,” he reflected, in reference to a 2-1 defeat at Upton Park in 2014. On that occasion, unlike in Moscow, Messi scored his penalty with aplomb. “We know how to play against the big teams and we are not scared of them. They have maybe the best player in the world in Messi, but Iceland showed how to defend against him. It’s an honour, of course, to face him. In the Champions League final, I played against Cristiano Ronaldo, two weeks ago it was Neymar, now it’s Messi. That’s something you want to do from childhood.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Pogba kabarnya akan kembali bergabung dengan Juventus.
Pogba Bicara Kemungkinan Balik ke Juventus
Pogba kabarnya akan kembali bergabung dengan Juventus.
Juventus menjadi salah satu klub yang tertarik menggunakan jasa Milinkovic-Savic.
Ayah SMS Dukung Putranya Gabung Juventus
Juventus menjadi salah satu klub yang tertarik menggunakan jasa Milinkovic-Savic.
Nachdem Vorstandsboss Karl-Heinz-Rummenigge einen Wechsel von Jerome Boateng beim FC Bayern nicht ausgeschlossen hatte, gibt es nun offenbar erste Interessenten an dem 29-jährigen Innenverteidiger. Wie die Gazzetta di Parma berichtet, soll Juventus Turin ein Auge auf Boateng geworfen haben.
Bundesliga: Juventus wohl an Boateng interessiert
Nachdem Vorstandsboss Karl-Heinz-Rummenigge einen Wechsel von Jerome Boateng beim FC Bayern nicht ausgeschlossen hatte, gibt es nun offenbar erste Interessenten an dem 29-jährigen Innenverteidiger. Wie die Gazzetta di Parma berichtet, soll Juventus Turin ein Auge auf Boateng geworfen haben.
La Juventus è pronta a far cassa con cessioni 'minori': l'Eintracht ha messo nel mirino Cerri e Sturaro, per Favilli c'è la fila.
Calciomercato Juventus, via alle cessioni: Sturaro piace all'Eintracht
La Juventus è pronta a far cassa con cessioni 'minori': l'Eintracht ha messo nel mirino Cerri e Sturaro, per Favilli c'è la fila.
Here we take a look at Switzerland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know about the Group E challengers. Switzerland's World Cup squad - 23-man squad 23-man final squad Goalkeepers: Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Moenchengladbach) Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna) Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Steven Zuber (Hoffenheim) Forwards: Josip Drmic (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica) Switzerland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Brazil: Sunday, June 17 at 7pm Serbia: Friday, June 22 at 7pm Costa Rica: Wednesday, June 27 at 7pm What odds are Switzerland to win the World Cup? 100/1 The kits See where Switzerland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Vladimir Petković, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian, has coached six Swiss domestic clubs. 27/30 points in qualifying but still needed a play-off, which they won with an iffy penalty over Northern Ireland. Who's the star? Xherdan Shaqiri. Has been called the Alpine Messi (not sure if he can ski) but certainly has the skills to slalom past opponents. Granit Xhaka had a pre-World Cup injury scare but should be fit Credit: REUTERS Best thing about them Have a good blend of youth and experience, have Granit Xhaka (who is a better player than his sometimes irritating work for Arsenal suggests) to distribute, only let in seven goals in qualifying. Worst thing about them Toothless. Likely starting forward Haris Seferovic has just 11 international goals and hasn’t scored for Benfica since October: that's 15 goals for club and country without a goal. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… A familiar sense of ennui while watching: the Swiss have rarely dazzled at tournaments but, ranked sixth by Fifa, are clearly worthy of respect. Cameramen will be picking out… Ripped shirts? In Euro 2016, no fewer than three Swiss players needed to change their jersey vs France. Shaqiri joked: “I hope Puma don't produce condoms.” Switzerland shirts rip as Henry jokes: I can call up Puma if you want? https://t.co/7nEPlQD3sm#wotspic.twitter.com/rM8B5BDdCl— What's on the Social (@wotstoday) June 19, 2016 Fans' favourite chant “Schweizer Nati ole, ole.” (Translation: “we have many respected financial institutions and very clean air”) On-field prediction Eminently doable second place behind Brazil would probably see them face (lose to) Germany in last-16. Off-field prediction Orderly. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Switzerland World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Here we take a look at Switzerland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know about the Group E challengers. Switzerland's World Cup squad - 23-man squad 23-man final squad Goalkeepers: Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Moenchengladbach) Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna) Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Steven Zuber (Hoffenheim) Forwards: Josip Drmic (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica) Switzerland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Brazil: Sunday, June 17 at 7pm Serbia: Friday, June 22 at 7pm Costa Rica: Wednesday, June 27 at 7pm What odds are Switzerland to win the World Cup? 100/1 The kits See where Switzerland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Vladimir Petković, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian, has coached six Swiss domestic clubs. 27/30 points in qualifying but still needed a play-off, which they won with an iffy penalty over Northern Ireland. Who's the star? Xherdan Shaqiri. Has been called the Alpine Messi (not sure if he can ski) but certainly has the skills to slalom past opponents. Granit Xhaka had a pre-World Cup injury scare but should be fit Credit: REUTERS Best thing about them Have a good blend of youth and experience, have Granit Xhaka (who is a better player than his sometimes irritating work for Arsenal suggests) to distribute, only let in seven goals in qualifying. Worst thing about them Toothless. Likely starting forward Haris Seferovic has just 11 international goals and hasn’t scored for Benfica since October: that's 15 goals for club and country without a goal. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… A familiar sense of ennui while watching: the Swiss have rarely dazzled at tournaments but, ranked sixth by Fifa, are clearly worthy of respect. Cameramen will be picking out… Ripped shirts? In Euro 2016, no fewer than three Swiss players needed to change their jersey vs France. Shaqiri joked: “I hope Puma don't produce condoms.” Switzerland shirts rip as Henry jokes: I can call up Puma if you want? https://t.co/7nEPlQD3sm#wotspic.twitter.com/rM8B5BDdCl— What's on the Social (@wotstoday) June 19, 2016 Fans' favourite chant “Schweizer Nati ole, ole.” (Translation: “we have many respected financial institutions and very clean air”) On-field prediction Eminently doable second place behind Brazil would probably see them face (lose to) Germany in last-16. Off-field prediction Orderly. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Here we take a look at Switzerland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know about the Group E challengers. Switzerland's World Cup squad - 23-man squad 23-man final squad Goalkeepers: Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Moenchengladbach) Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna) Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Steven Zuber (Hoffenheim) Forwards: Josip Drmic (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica) Switzerland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Brazil: Sunday, June 17 at 7pm Serbia: Friday, June 22 at 7pm Costa Rica: Wednesday, June 27 at 7pm What odds are Switzerland to win the World Cup? 100/1 The kits See where Switzerland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Vladimir Petković, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian, has coached six Swiss domestic clubs. 27/30 points in qualifying but still needed a play-off, which they won with an iffy penalty over Northern Ireland. Who's the star? Xherdan Shaqiri. Has been called the Alpine Messi (not sure if he can ski) but certainly has the skills to slalom past opponents. Granit Xhaka had a pre-World Cup injury scare but should be fit Credit: REUTERS Best thing about them Have a good blend of youth and experience, have Granit Xhaka (who is a better player than his sometimes irritating work for Arsenal suggests) to distribute, only let in seven goals in qualifying. Worst thing about them Toothless. Likely starting forward Haris Seferovic has just 11 international goals and hasn’t scored for Benfica since October: that's 15 goals for club and country without a goal. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… A familiar sense of ennui while watching: the Swiss have rarely dazzled at tournaments but, ranked sixth by Fifa, are clearly worthy of respect. Cameramen will be picking out… Ripped shirts? In Euro 2016, no fewer than three Swiss players needed to change their jersey vs France. Shaqiri joked: “I hope Puma don't produce condoms.” Switzerland shirts rip as Henry jokes: I can call up Puma if you want? https://t.co/7nEPlQD3sm#wotspic.twitter.com/rM8B5BDdCl— What's on the Social (@wotstoday) June 19, 2016 Fans' favourite chant “Schweizer Nati ole, ole.” (Translation: “we have many respected financial institutions and very clean air”) On-field prediction Eminently doable second place behind Brazil would probably see them face (lose to) Germany in last-16. Off-field prediction Orderly. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Switzerland World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Here we take a look at Switzerland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know about the Group E challengers. Switzerland's World Cup squad - 23-man squad 23-man final squad Goalkeepers: Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Moenchengladbach) Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna) Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Steven Zuber (Hoffenheim) Forwards: Josip Drmic (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica) Switzerland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Brazil: Sunday, June 17 at 7pm Serbia: Friday, June 22 at 7pm Costa Rica: Wednesday, June 27 at 7pm What odds are Switzerland to win the World Cup? 100/1 The kits See where Switzerland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Vladimir Petković, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian, has coached six Swiss domestic clubs. 27/30 points in qualifying but still needed a play-off, which they won with an iffy penalty over Northern Ireland. Who's the star? Xherdan Shaqiri. Has been called the Alpine Messi (not sure if he can ski) but certainly has the skills to slalom past opponents. Granit Xhaka had a pre-World Cup injury scare but should be fit Credit: REUTERS Best thing about them Have a good blend of youth and experience, have Granit Xhaka (who is a better player than his sometimes irritating work for Arsenal suggests) to distribute, only let in seven goals in qualifying. Worst thing about them Toothless. Likely starting forward Haris Seferovic has just 11 international goals and hasn’t scored for Benfica since October: that's 15 goals for club and country without a goal. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… A familiar sense of ennui while watching: the Swiss have rarely dazzled at tournaments but, ranked sixth by Fifa, are clearly worthy of respect. Cameramen will be picking out… Ripped shirts? In Euro 2016, no fewer than three Swiss players needed to change their jersey vs France. Shaqiri joked: “I hope Puma don't produce condoms.” Switzerland shirts rip as Henry jokes: I can call up Puma if you want? https://t.co/7nEPlQD3sm#wotspic.twitter.com/rM8B5BDdCl— What's on the Social (@wotstoday) June 19, 2016 Fans' favourite chant “Schweizer Nati ole, ole.” (Translation: “we have many respected financial institutions and very clean air”) On-field prediction Eminently doable second place behind Brazil would probably see them face (lose to) Germany in last-16. Off-field prediction Orderly. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Here we take a look at Germany's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know about the Group F challengers. Germany's World Cup squad - the 23 names Leroy Sane was left out of Germany's final World Cup squad - here are those who did make it: Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris St Germain). Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich). Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris St Germain), Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal). Forwards: Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig). Germany's World Cup 2018 fixtures Mexico: Sunday, June 17 at 4pm Sweden: Saturday, June 23 at 7pm South Korea: Wednesday, June 27 at 3pm Germany's World Cup record World Cup record: Germany How do you think Germany should line up? Pick your XI here: Pick your Germany XI for World Cup 2018 here What odds are Germany to win the World Cup? 9/2 The kits See where Germany's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Joachim Low, who has “issued a sex ban” to his players for the duration the World Cup. Excellent coach, noted touchline nose-picker. The question everyone wants to know before #POR#GER is - will Joachim Löw pick his nose and eat it again? #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/5kTO3ELtMa— 90min (@90min_Football) June 16, 2014 What are his and Germany's tactics and likely formation? JJ Bull explains how Neuer or Trapp will be key if Germany are to retain the World Cup. Who's the star? Quality throughout, but the intelligent, metronomic and stylish Toni Kroos of Real Madrid is perhaps the most vital cog. Best thing about them Serial winners: they are the champions, and holders of the Confederations Cup as well. Went unbeaten in 2017. Worst thing about them Other than having to face them on penalties? Talismanic goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is only just on the way back from a serious foot injury. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… The familiar sight of men with bad hair celebrating uproariously? Or perhaps an even more effective Mesut Ozil? Cameramen will be picking out… The sad face of Mario Götze, who scored the winner in the Final against Argentina four years ago, but is not even in the squad this time. Only 25. Fans' favourite chant “Deutschland vor, noch ein Tor”. Translates as “Germans attack, score one more goal.” On-field prediction Strongly fancied to get to der businessende yet again. Off-field prediction Hopefully having a lovely jolly time and nobody mentioning the War. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Germany World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Here we take a look at Germany's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know about the Group F challengers. Germany's World Cup squad - the 23 names Leroy Sane was left out of Germany's final World Cup squad - here are those who did make it: Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris St Germain). Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich). Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris St Germain), Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal). Forwards: Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig). Germany's World Cup 2018 fixtures Mexico: Sunday, June 17 at 4pm Sweden: Saturday, June 23 at 7pm South Korea: Wednesday, June 27 at 3pm Germany's World Cup record World Cup record: Germany How do you think Germany should line up? Pick your XI here: Pick your Germany XI for World Cup 2018 here What odds are Germany to win the World Cup? 9/2 The kits See where Germany's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Joachim Low, who has “issued a sex ban” to his players for the duration the World Cup. Excellent coach, noted touchline nose-picker. The question everyone wants to know before #POR#GER is - will Joachim Löw pick his nose and eat it again? #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/5kTO3ELtMa— 90min (@90min_Football) June 16, 2014 What are his and Germany's tactics and likely formation? JJ Bull explains how Neuer or Trapp will be key if Germany are to retain the World Cup. Who's the star? Quality throughout, but the intelligent, metronomic and stylish Toni Kroos of Real Madrid is perhaps the most vital cog. Best thing about them Serial winners: they are the champions, and holders of the Confederations Cup as well. Went unbeaten in 2017. Worst thing about them Other than having to face them on penalties? Talismanic goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is only just on the way back from a serious foot injury. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… The familiar sight of men with bad hair celebrating uproariously? Or perhaps an even more effective Mesut Ozil? Cameramen will be picking out… The sad face of Mario Götze, who scored the winner in the Final against Argentina four years ago, but is not even in the squad this time. Only 25. Fans' favourite chant “Deutschland vor, noch ein Tor”. Translates as “Germans attack, score one more goal.” On-field prediction Strongly fancied to get to der businessende yet again. Off-field prediction Hopefully having a lovely jolly time and nobody mentioning the War. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Lazio Roms Sergej Milinkovic-Savic ist im Moment heißt begehrt. Sein Vater hält Juventus Turin für den perfekten Klub für den 23-Jährigen.
Vater von Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: "Juventus der perfekte Klub"
Lazio Roms Sergej Milinkovic-Savic ist im Moment heißt begehrt. Sein Vater hält Juventus Turin für den perfekten Klub für den 23-Jährigen.
Pogba kabarnya akan kembali bergabung dengan Juventus.
Pogba Bicara Kemungkinan Balik ke Juventus
Pogba kabarnya akan kembali bergabung dengan Juventus.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic è un obiettivo dichiarato della Juventus, il padre Nìkola non ha dubbi: "Torino meglio di Roma. Madrid? C'è tempo...".
Calciomercato Juventus, il padre di Milinkovic-Savic: "È la squadra perfetta per lui"
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic è un obiettivo dichiarato della Juventus, il padre Nìkola non ha dubbi: "Torino meglio di Roma. Madrid? C'è tempo...".
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic è un obiettivo dichiarato della Juventus, il padre Nìkola non ha dubbi: "Torino meglio di Roma. Madrid? C'è tempo...".
Calciomercato Juventus, il padre di Milinkovic-Savic: "È la squadra perfetta per lui"
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic è un obiettivo dichiarato della Juventus, il padre Nìkola non ha dubbi: "Torino meglio di Roma. Madrid? C'è tempo...".
Juventus menganggap Rugani sebagai bek masa depan.
Bek Masa Depan Italia Tolak Tinggalkan Juventus
Juventus menganggap Rugani sebagai bek masa depan.
Real Madrid membutuhkan penyerang baru.
Tawar Dybala, Juventus Tolak Pendekatan Real Madrid
Real Madrid membutuhkan penyerang baru.
Pemain Juventus, Paulo Dybala, diincar beberapa tim Eropa.
Pelatih Juventus Pastikan Paulo Dybala Bertahan
Pemain Juventus, Paulo Dybala, diincar beberapa tim Eropa.
 It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
World Cup 2018: Luka Modric on target to help Croatia sink lethargic Nigeria
It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
 It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
World Cup 2018: Luka Modric on target to help Croatia sink lethargic Nigeria
It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
 It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
World Cup 2018: Luka Modric on target to help Croatia sink lethargic Nigeria
It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
 It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
World Cup 2018: Luka Modric on target to help Croatia sink lethargic Nigeria
It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
 It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.
World Cup 2018: Luka Modric on target to help Croatia sink lethargic Nigeria
It has been 20 years since Croatia shocked the game by reaching a World Cup semi-final, but on the evidence of this emphatic opening salvo against an abject Nigeria, they are perfectly-placed to creep below the radar once more. On a balmy evening in Kaliningrad, this strange but captivating Russian exclave beside the Baltic Sea, they outfought and outwitted their modest opposition even in third gear. The collective satisfaction, writ large across the face of goalscorer Luka Modric and his manager Zlatko Dalic, sent a message that they expected their stay in this tournament to be a long one. Back in 1998, Davor Suker was an irresistible goalscoring force, and Slaven Bilic a human battering ram in the heart of defence. Twenty years on, their embarrassment of riches eclipses that elegant vintage. Modric has just won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, at his finest, is a wonderfully creative midfielder whose gifts are acknowledged by even Lionel Messi. Throw a totem like Mario Mandzukic into the blend, and it is not difficult to see why Croatia are pitching their ambitions high this time. As for Nigeria, head coach Gernot Rohr’s despairing gaze up at the heavens told its own story. The German had promised to galvanise a nation with a display of enterprising, free-wheeling football, but this was a ghastly offering by his young side. With Argentina and Iceland completing this formidable World Cup group, they will do well to be anything other than sacrificial lambs. For all the extravagant ability of young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi, there was scant cohesion to their play and even less steel. When Oghenekaro Etebo registered an own goal he knew little about, all Nigerian discipline evaporated. And when Modric dispatched a penalty with his usual poise, so did any attempt at resistance. This was not the performance that the tens of thousands of Nigerians who crammed into this city deserved. Their team had been billed as a golden generation who represented the country’s best chance of World Cup progress since their debut on this stage in 1994. Any flair, sadly, was conspicuous by its absence. So, too, sadly, were the luridly-patterned retro shirts that have been flying off the shelves, as Nigeria opted instead for a dowdy dark-green number. From their fashion sense to their touch on the pitch, they picked the worst possible moment for an off-colour evening. Croatia, by contrast, were exultant. Coach Zlatko Dalic, an ardent patriot, said: “This was for all Croatians, for those who are struggling. They came to see us in vast numbers. Now we have to celebrate and turn to Argentina.” It was apt that he should have lauded the legions of compatriots inside the cosy Kaliningrad Stadium, constructed especially for the World Cup on a man-made island, since they compensated for the few empty seats with their relentless noise. Passionately partisan, they draped banners from every major club, whether Hajduk Split or Dinamo Zagreb, across every spare surface. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage Weighed down at first by this level of expectation, Croatia were slow to find any rhythm. Even Rakitic looked ill at ease, penalised for one late foul and then carelessly giving away a free-kick. Their reprieve was that Nigeria mustered little in response, save for Victor Moses’ lively running. It required Ivan Perisic to provide a glimpse of the spectacular, seizing on a swift counter-attack to launch a curling, raking shot fractionally high. The breakthrough, when it came, was more fortuitous. A sequence of headed pinball from a Modric corner, with first Ante Rebic and then Mandzukic flicking the ball on, ended with the luckless Etebo ‒ signed only last week by Stoke City ‒ diverting it into his own net off his shin. In a heartbeat, the Croatians were invigorated, rediscovering the vibrancy that had eluded them. Modric and Rakitic both began threading their passes with exquisite delicacy, while the ever-dangerous Mandzukic was a belligerent, harrying presence up front. Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players At times, Nigeria looked cowed by the evident gulf in talent. While Croatia boast a line-up studded with Champions League superstars, two of the Super Eagles’ elder statesmen, in John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, have faded into lucrative early retirement in China. Still, there was always Iwobi to stir hope among the masses in green-and-white. He has become a cult hero among Nigerian fans, who line-dance and chant his name at the slightest encouragement. Here, he almost repaid the fervour, with his driven effort taking a deflection off Dejan Lovren on the stroke of half-time. As Croatia tightened their grip, Rohr had little choice but to gamble. Rohr has described his mission in the job as “one to make the people happy”, although he risked instant unpopularity by hauling off Iwobi in favour of Ahmed Musa, already well-adjusted to playing in Russia through his years at CSKA Moscow. The switch bore little fruit, with Ighalo far too isolated as the target man and William Troost-Ekong committing a cardinal error in wrapping his arms around Mandzukic in the box, bundling him over in the box. On a day of dismal penalty-taking elsewhere, Modric did not miss a beat, planting his shot calmly in the bottom left corner and sending Francis Uzoho the wrong way. Nigeria tried gamely to eke out a late consolation, with a deft one-two between Musa and Etebo setting up a fleeting chance, but even that proved beyond them. Croatia, unmistakably, are on the march. Match details Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic (AS Monaco) 6; Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) 5, Vida (Besiktas) 5, Lovren (Liverpool) 6, Strinic (Sampdoria) 5; Rakitic (Barcelona) 6, Modric (Real Madrid) 7; Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6, Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim) 6, Perisic (Inter Milan) 6; Mandzukic (Juventus) 6. Subs: Brozovic (Inter Milan) for Kramaric, 60; Kovacic (Real Madrid) for Rebic, 78. Booked: Rakitic. Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna) 6; Shehu (Bursaspor) 5, Balogun (Mainz 05) 5, Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) 4, Idowu (Amkar Perm) 5; Ndidi (Leicester City) 6, Etebo (Stoke City) 4; Moses (Chelsea) 6, Mikel (Tianjin Teda) 6, Iwobi (Arsenal) 5; Ighalo (Changchun Yatai) 5. Sub: Musa (Leicester City) for Iwobi, 62; Iheanacho (Leicester City) for Ighalo, 73 Booked: Troost-Ekong. Referee: Sandro Ricci (Italy). 10:10PM It's Brazil tomorrow Never fear if you didn't enjoy yourself watching this one tonight. Tomorrow is Brazil vs Switzerland and it's going to be brilliant. Germany are playing against Mexico too! Two massive teams who could well meet each other in the final. We have liveblogs for both which you can read and I'll be on the Brazil, so come be my friend. In the mean time, here's a bit of reading for you. World Cup tactics: How Brazil are playing to their strengths with attacking setup 10:03PM Roy Keane is furious with Nigeria "I'm glad they got punished. It's lazy defending. I don't understand why these players don't wanna defend properly and I'm glad they got punished." 10:01PM Croatia will change system for each match Slaven Bilic says Zlatko Dalic intends to change his system between games. "He'll play Modric in the hole behind the striker" in the next match. More from Bilic: "Nigeria were bad. We didn't have any trouble whatsoever. They done nothing, clean sheet. We didn't impressed. France didn't impress, Uruguay didn't, only Russia. All the rest didn't so we've done well. "We beat Nigeria without any problems and still we are talking about 'ohhhhh Croatia' [does anguished face]" 9:59PM Was that a good game? I can't really tell. Croatia were in cruise control for most of it and it'll be interesting to see what they're like against a fired up Argentina and a strong Iceland side. What was wrong with Nigeria? They just didn't seem to be on their game tonight. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:53PM FULL TIME Credit: AP Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group. 9:51PM 90 mins +3 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 What. A. Miss. That's incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him. 9:50PM 90 mins +2 - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance - there's just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing. 9:48PM 90 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box. Where's the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help. 9:46PM 88 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot... but it's blocked. Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo. 9:44PM 86 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Nigeria still don't seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still. Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic. 9:43PM 84 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived. 9:40PM 82 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Credit: AFP That's Mandzukic being fouled. NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it... and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in. 9:38PM 79 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks... the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession. Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in. 9:36PM 77 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as "terrible". 9:33PM 75 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 It's Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though - Nigeria look beaten. 9:32PM 73 mins - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 That penalty was Croatia's first shot on target. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now. 9:29PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL! Modric hits the back of the net! "You just fancied him from the word go, didn't you?" says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Goal: Croatia ( 71 min ) 9:28PM PENALTY! 70 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone's gone down in the area... IT'S A PENALTY! And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it. 9:27PM 68 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here... and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren't exactly easy to play against. 9:25PM 66 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it's infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee's probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him. 9:22PM 64 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 9:20PM 62 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions. 9:19PM 60 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in. Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder. 9:15PM 57 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor. "He's got to score!" says McCoist. In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he's within a yard of any opponent. It's incredibly annoying. 9:13PM 55 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don't seem too bothered about it. "I can't believe it. It's baffling," is McCoist's opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight. 9:11PM 53 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 That's a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is "fouled" by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick. 9:10PM 52 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar. Neither side has yet had a shot on target. 9:08PM 50 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Moses is up to mischief here. He's falling over really easily quite often but isn't being awarded free-kicks. Now he's trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min) Nigeria are much better already here. 9:06PM 48 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner. It's cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch. 9:04PM KICK OFF 2 - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 We're back! Let's hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I've been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents' house which were more entertaining. And that's the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go 'I wonder if he'll manage to get a good deal on that car this time...' oh my word he's only gone and done it! Etc. Croatia start the second half. 9:00PM This is pretty cool ���� Pints flying in Zagreb [��: @PavaoBlazer] #CRO#NGApic.twitter.com/vNR6l1J44p— COPA90 (@COPA90) June 16, 2018 8:58PM Nigeria players having a huddle This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn't ever seen it before... but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he's within his rights to tear into them. Credit: REUTERS 8:56PM The celebrations Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:51PM Average positions Average touch positions (half time) It's sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn't it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks. Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper. The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend. 8:47PM HALF TIME - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It's such a strange sport sometimes. Croatia vs Nigeria shots on goal 8:46PM 45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor. Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it's headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley... and Lovren's foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling. 8:44PM 44 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here: It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area. 8:42PM 42 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don't pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit. 8:41PM 40 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it's helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren's covering his position when he does and that's why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back. This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area... and he's got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that's close. Miss: Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 8:37PM 38 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield. Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him. Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko's run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance... but his cross is poor and out for a throw. 8:36PM 36 mins - Croatia 1 Nigeria 0 Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo's shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back. 8:32PM GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL! CROATIA HAVE SCORED! Croatia 1 - 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min) Modric crosses towards the near post, it's headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo's calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there's nothing Uzoho can do about it. 8:32PM 32 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner. 8:31PM 31 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses' ankle. His prize is a yellow card. 8:30PM 30 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu's heard me. He's launched it... and given Croatia the ball. Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we've been at this for 30 minutes now. 8:29PM 29 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: REUTERS Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric: "I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith 'see how much money we've got, let's try and get this little fella from Croatia'. There wasn't enough in the kitty." 8:27PM 27 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game. The commentators sound a little bored too. They're talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I'd totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram. Nothing's really happening on the pitch. 8:25PM 25 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Jon Champion's commentary: "I don't want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp." Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know. I hasten to add that you can't actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly. 8:23PM 23 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he's bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate. Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo's optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide. Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn't particularly pleased about it. 8:21PM 21 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece... Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily. I'd say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter. Possession: Croatia vs Nigeria 8:19PM 19 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it's working. The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh. It's a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area. 8:17PM 17 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min) 8:15PM 15 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close. Out: Croatia 0 - 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min) 8:13PM 13 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands. Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it's headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies. Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now! 8:11PM 11 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back. Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages. 8:09PM 9 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It's taken short... and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it's a free-kick. 8:07PM 7 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment. Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again. Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he's meant to do in that situation. It's something we've seen quite a lot in this World Cup - defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks. 8:04PM 4 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear. Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match. 8:02PM 2 mins - Croatia 0 Nigeria 0 Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses' free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out. Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left. 8:01PM KICK OFF Here we go! Nigeria get us started. 7:58PM Inside the stadium Credit: GETTY IMAGES And in the green corner: Credit: REUTERS 7:56PM How the teams will look Croatia will most likely attack in a 4-2-4. Mandzukic and Kramaric are both strikers - and Rebic is also mostly a central striker too, but can play on the wing. Perisic may also start on the right... and Rakitic and Modric will be told to control the midfield. Even though they could end up being outnumbered I'd fancy them to do that. Nigeria are a pretty straight forward 4-2-3-1, built to counter-attack. Ndidi is superb at winning the ball back, Mikel is composed on the ball and can spot a through-pass, Ighalo is extremely quick. Moses and Iwobi will be the big players on the counter. 7:53PM Here come the players And Ally McCoist is on co-comms. That's a nice little boost, he usually has some funny bits to chuck in here and there. 7:49PM Stay up to date with the World Cup! If you haven't done so already, I thoroughly recommend signing up for our Whatsapp updates. I've been enjoying them all week. World Cup whatsapp promo 7:46PM The VAR debate We've seen VAR used quite a lot today and personally I've really enjoyed it. It's genuinely exciting when the referee is working out what his decision is, adds a little to the event. "The only thing I'd want from a referee in such a crucial moment is a second view," says Mark Clattenburg. And the great thing about VAR is that it hasn't spoiled the subjective nature of the game - people are still disagreeing with decisions that are made but at least that is then just an argument about the interpretation of the rule, rather than the referee getting it wrong. If he's seen the incident and been able to review it, even if you don't like the decision, at least the referee has made an informed decision with time to think about it, backed up by his pals. As for slowing the tempo down, I think it really adds to the atmosphere. The way Peru were awarded their penalty earlier today was great - play continued, the referee got a chance to review it during open play and then rightly awarded a penalty. Without it, Peru probably wouldn't have gotten their penalty. They still missed, but you know what I mean. 7:41PM The warm-ups Credit: FIFA Credit: AFP 7:34PM Bilic on Modric "If he was English you'd say he was the best midfielder in the world." I actually agree with him... [runs away] 7:32PM Slaven Bilic on Croatia "This is the tournament. They look on the paper better than our team who won the bronze in 1998, three played in the Champions League final. They are hungry and look really well. There are big expectations back home." 7:28PM Do not adjust your screen One could go blind watching Croatia and Nigeria but, really, I wouldn't have it any other way. pic.twitter.com/5r1KCdpg7T— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2018 7:27PM Nigeria's World Cup record World Cup record: Nigeria The semi-finals in 1998 but since then... not so good. Could this be the first year an African team wins the World Cup? Could it be Nigeria? Having watched them a couple of times recently I'd suggest not... but they will cause problems to every team in their group for sure. 7:26PM Why am I watching Take Me Out I've just realised it's been on the TV for about 10 minutes... and I've been watching it while writing about the match. It's confusing... I'm sorry. I shouldn't reveal these things. BACK TO FOOTBALL Here we go - Match 4! #CRONGApic.twitter.com/UokPd4IbtX— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018 7:12PM What happened earlier today If you happened to be doing something that prevented you from watching Lionel Messi and 10 friends try (unsuccessfully) to beat Iceland earlier, you can read the match report here. Iceland were seriously impressive in that game and really could do some damage to both Nigeria and Croatia. It's in both teams' interest to win this - and I know that's obvious - but losing this one could genuinely be the end of the tournament for them. Argentina will be better when they're not against a low block of 10 men, Iceland know how to score and defend superbly. 7:08PM Inside the dressing room Credit: FIFA Now who'd live in a place like this? The Croatia team, that's who. I'm assuming there are no photos of the Nigeria dressing room yet because it's locked up under tight security to spot people nicking all the cool shirts. 7:00PM Some lovely photos of the tournament so far Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players 6:58PM Starting lineups Croatia (4-2-3-1) Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic Nigeria (4-2-3-1) Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo 6:53PM The stadium's filling up Credit: REUTERS Credit: REUTERS 6:43PM Today's venue This is where the game will be played: World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Fans have made their way to the stadium already and look to be having a great time. It's a lovely, sunny evening and... the building looks like a cruise ship. Credit: REUTERS 6:36PM Nigeria's amazing kit You must have seen it by now but it is an absolute beauty. Where it did it rank in Thom Gibbs' excellent run down of all the kits? Find out here! World Cup kits ranked 6:30PM Football football football Make that four footballs! Welcome to this liveblog for Croatia vs Nigeria, the fourth football World Cup game of today and a match which should be thoroughly entertaining. If we get anything close to what Portugal and Spain produced last night, it's going to be just a wonderful time for us all. So what can be expect from tonight's match? Nigeria have some really talented, skillful players but the general feeling about the squad is that it's a project and one which might not be ready for a few years yet. Croatia are carrying a lot of expectation from home and with players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, you can see why. There are talented players throughout the Croatian squad - the goalkeeper is brilliant, Dejan Lovren is (mostly) a great option in defence and Mateo Kovacic is another name you'll recognise. But will it work on the night? Who will stand up to the pressure? Nobody knows! Nigeria are no pushovers, although even England managed to tear them apart in a recent friendly, and will represent a threat on the counter-attack. Jon Obi Mikel - remember him? - is fantastic as a number 10 too. He was an attacking player as a youngster apparently but for some reason was moved to a six at Chelsea. Ah well. We'll bring you the team news as soon as we have it, stay with us for all the buildup and action. Kick-off is 8pm.

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