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The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
Instant Analysis: Doncic to the Hawks
The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
Instant Analysis: Doncic to the Hawks
The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
Instant Analysis: Doncic to the Hawks
The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Why the Cavs should be concerned about Collin Sexton
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Why the Cavs should be concerned about Collin Sexton
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Why the Cavs should be concerned about Collin Sexton
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Why the Cavs should be concerned about Collin Sexton
Yahoo Sports' 'NBA Draft Live' crew discusses the latest pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
2018 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades
It's one place to keep track of everything going on at the NBA Draft.
The Dallas Mavericks select Trae Young with the fifth pick who will be headed to The Atlanta Hawks for Luka Doncic and a future first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Mavericks Select Trae Young With The Fifth Pick
The Dallas Mavericks select Trae Young with the fifth pick who will be headed to The Atlanta Hawks for Luka Doncic and a future first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
Grizzlies Select Jaren Jackson Jr.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
Grizzlies Select Jaren Jackson Jr.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
Grizzlies Select Jaren Jackson Jr.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
Grizzlies Select Jaren Jackson Jr.
With the 4th overall pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Jaren Jackson Jr.
Ahead of their make or break World Cup showdown versus Iceland, the football icon spent some time with the Super Eagles
Nigeria legend Nwankwo Kanu pays a visit to Super Eagles hotel
Ahead of their make or break World Cup showdown versus Iceland, the football icon spent some time with the Super Eagles
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Mo Bamba Selected At No. 6 By The Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Mo Bamba Selected At No. 6 By The Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Mo Bamba Selected At No. 6 By The Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Mo Bamba Selected At No. 6 By The Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic select Mo Bamba from the University of Texas with the No. 6 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
Instant Analysis: Doncic to the Hawks
The GameTime crew talk about what Luka Doncic could bring to the table for the up and coming season.
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Instant Analysis: Marvin Bagley III
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Instant Analysis: Marvin Bagley III
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Nolan Arenado rips a line-drive double off the right-field wall, scoring two runs to extend the Rockies' lead to 5-1 in the 2nd inning
Arenado's hard two-run double
Nolan Arenado rips a line-drive double off the right-field wall, scoring two runs to extend the Rockies' lead to 5-1 in the 2nd inning
Nolan Arenado rips a line-drive double off the right-field wall, scoring two runs to extend the Rockies' lead to 5-1 in the 2nd inning
Arenado's hard two-run double
Nolan Arenado rips a line-drive double off the right-field wall, scoring two runs to extend the Rockies' lead to 5-1 in the 2nd inning
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Instant Analysis: Marvin Bagley III
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Instant Analysis: Marvin Bagley III
Watch the breakdown of the Marvin Bagley III, selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Nolan Arenado rips a line-drive double off the right-field wall, scoring two runs to extend the Rockies' lead to 5-1 in the 2nd inning
Arenado's hard two-run double
Nolan Arenado rips a line-drive double off the right-field wall, scoring two runs to extend the Rockies' lead to 5-1 in the 2nd inning
Brandon Nimmo plates Amed Rosario with an RBI single to center field, cutting into the Mets' deficit in the 3rd inning
Nimmo's RBI single to center
Brandon Nimmo plates Amed Rosario with an RBI single to center field, cutting into the Mets' deficit in the 3rd inning
Serbia's defender Aleksandar Kolarov attends a training session in Kaliningrad on June 21, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group E match against Switzerland (AFP Photo/Attila KISBENEDEK)
Serbia's defender Aleksandar Kolarov attends a training session in Kaliningrad on June 21, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group E match against Switzerland
Serbia's defender Aleksandar Kolarov attends a training session in Kaliningrad on June 21, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group E match against Switzerland (AFP Photo/Attila KISBENEDEK)
Iceland's players take part in a training session in Volgograd on June 21, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group D match against Nigeria (AFP Photo/NICOLAS ASFOURI)
Iceland's players take part in a training session in Volgograd on June 21, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group D match against Nigeria
Iceland's players take part in a training session in Volgograd on June 21, on the eve of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group D match against Nigeria (AFP Photo/NICOLAS ASFOURI)
[直播預告]陳偉殷再戰洛磯 全力瞄準本季第3勝
陳偉殷再戰洛磯 全力瞄準本季第3勝
[直播預告]陳偉殷再戰洛磯 全力瞄準本季第3勝
6/21/18: Valbuena homers twice in Angels' 8-5 win
Recap: LAA 8, TOR 5
6/21/18: Valbuena homers twice in Angels' 8-5 win
6/21/18: Valbuena homers twice in Angels' 8-5 win
Recap: LAA 8, TOR 5
6/21/18: Valbuena homers twice in Angels' 8-5 win
6/21/18: Valbuena homers twice in Angels' 8-5 win
Recap: LAA 8, TOR 5
6/21/18: Valbuena homers twice in Angels' 8-5 win
After his team's hopes of World Cup progression suffered a huge blow, Jorge Sampaoli has pleaded with Argentina's fans to forgive him.
Sampaoli begs for Argentina's forgiveness
After his team's hopes of World Cup progression suffered a huge blow, Jorge Sampaoli has pleaded with Argentina's fans to forgive him.
Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar homer to lead the Yankees to a sweep of the Mariners, plus Juan Soto's tie-breaking double takes down the O's
6/21/18 MLB.com FastCast
Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar homer to lead the Yankees to a sweep of the Mariners, plus Juan Soto's tie-breaking double takes down the O's
Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar homer to lead the Yankees to a sweep of the Mariners, plus Juan Soto's tie-breaking double takes down the O's
6/21/18 MLB.com FastCast
Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar homer to lead the Yankees to a sweep of the Mariners, plus Juan Soto's tie-breaking double takes down the O's
Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar homer to lead the Yankees to a sweep of the Mariners, plus Juan Soto's tie-breaking double takes down the O's
6/21/18 MLB.com FastCast
Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar homer to lead the Yankees to a sweep of the Mariners, plus Juan Soto's tie-breaking double takes down the O's
San Francisco Giants pitcher Mark Melancon, right, and catcher Buster Posey celebrate the team's 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres in a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Francisco Giants pitcher Mark Melancon, right, and catcher Buster Posey celebrate the team's 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres in a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval scores against the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval scores against the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Diego Padres pitcher Tyson Ross works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Diego Padres pitcher Tyson Ross works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner works against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner works against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Diego Padres pitcher Tyson Ross works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Diego Padres pitcher Tyson Ross works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey, left, scores next to San Diego Padres catcher A.J. Ellis during the eighth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey, left, scores next to San Diego Padres catcher A.J. Ellis during the eighth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Mark Melancon works against the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Francisco Giants pitcher Mark Melancon works against the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner swings for an RBI sacrifice fly off San Diego Padres pitcher Tyson Ross during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner swings for an RBI sacrifice fly off San Diego Padres pitcher Tyson Ross during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner works against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bumgarner goes 8 innings for 1st win, Giants beat Padres 3-0
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner works against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Goal gives you all you need to know about the World Cup group stage clash on Friday
Serbia v Switzerland: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
Goal gives you all you need to know about the World Cup group stage clash on Friday
Goal gives you all you need to know about the World Cup group stage clash on Friday
Serbia v Switzerland: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
Goal gives you all you need to know about the World Cup group stage clash on Friday
We are halfway through World Cup 2018's group games, but still none the wiser over who will win this summer's tournament. France won again, but are still struggling for rhythm, while Argentina's drubbing at the hands of Croatia on Thursday night leaves them on the brink of an early World Cup exit. Can Brazil stamp their authority on the tournament today? We will soon find out. With a busy schedule, here is our guide on how to watch every second of the action – a feast of pretty much non-stop football. The full World Cup 2018 fixture schedule is included below, with timings, venues and TV channels included. All times BST. Local times are BST +2 apart from games played in Kaliningrad (+1), Samara (+3) and Ekaterinburg (+4). Group stages Thursday 14 June Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Friday 15 June Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Saturday 16 June France 2 Australia 1 Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Peru 0 Denmark 1 Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Sunday 17 June Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Germany 0 Mexico 1 Brazil 1 Switzerland 1 Monday 18 June Sweden 1 South Korea 0 Belgium 3 Panama 0 Tunisia 1 England 2 Tuesday 19 June Colombia 1 Japan 2 Poland 1 Senegal 2 Russia 3 Egypt 1 Wednesday 20 June Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0 Iran 0 Spain 1 Thursday 21 June Denmark 1 Australia 1 France 1 Peru 0 Argentina 0 Croatia 3 Friday 22 June Brazil vs Costa Rica (Group E) - St Petersburg - 1pm - ITV Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D) - Volgograd - 4pm - BBC Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E) - Kaliningrad - 7pm - BBC test - do not delete Saturday 23 June Belgium vs Tunisia (Group G) - Moscow (Spartak) - 1pm - BBC South Korea vs Mexico (Group F) - Rostov-on-Don - 4pm - ITV Germany v Sweden (Group F) - Sochi - 7pm - ITV Sunday 24 June England vs Panama (Group G) - Nizhny Novgorod - 1pm - BBC Japan vs Senegal (Group H) - Ekaterinburg - 4pm - BBC Poland vs Colombia (Group H) - Kazan - 7pm - ITV Monday 25 June Uruguay vs Russia (Group A) - Samara - 3pm - ITV Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (Group A) - Volgograd - 3pm - ITV Spain vs Morocco (Group B) - Kaliningrad - 7pm- BBC Iran vs Portugal (Group B) - Saransk - 7pm - BBC Tuesday 26 June Denmark vs France (Group C) - Moscow (Luzhniki) - 3pm - ITV Australia vs Peru (Group C) - Sochi - 3pm - ITV Nigeria vs Argentina (Group D) - St Petersburg - 7pm - BBC Iceland vs Croatia (Group D) - Rostov-on-Don - 7pm - BBC Wednesday 27 June South Korea vs Germany (Group F) - Kazan - 3pm - BBC Mexico vs Sweden (Group F) - Ekaterinburg - 3pm - BBC Serbia vs Brazil (Group E) - Moscow (Spartak) - 7pm - ITV Switzerland vs Costa Rica (Group E) - Nizhny Novgorod - 7pm - ITV Thursday 28 June Japan vs Poland (Group H) - Volgograd - 3pm - BBC Senegal vs Colombia (Group H) - Samara - 3pm - BBC England vs Belgium (Group G) - Kaliningrad - 7pm - ITV Panama vs Tunisia (Group G) - Saransk - 7pm - ITV Round of 16 (Matches in bold are potential England fixtures) Saturday 30 June Group C winner vs Group D runner-up - Kazan, 3pm (Match 50) Group A winner vs Group B runner-up- Sochi, 7pm (Match 49) Sunday 1 July Group B winner vs Group A runner-up- Moscow (Luzhniki), 3pm (Match 51) Group D winner vs Group C runner-up - Nizhny Novgorod, 7pm (Match 52) Monday 2 July Group E winner vs Group F runner-up - Samara, 3pm (Match 53) Group G winner vs Group H runner-up - Rostov-on-Don, 7pm (Match 54) Tuesday 3 July Group F winner vs Group E runner-up - St Petersburg 3pm (Match 55) Group H winner vs Group G runner-up - Moscow (Spartak), 7pm (Match 56) Quarter-finals Friday 6 July Winner match 49 vs Winner match 50 - Nizhny Novgorod, 3pm (Match 57) Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm (Match 58) Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm (Match 60) Winner match 51 vs Winner match 52 - Sochi, 7pm (Match 59) Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm (Match 61) Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm (Match 62) Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm Russia 2018 Predictor: Plot the path of the finals with our interactive World Cup wallchart ​ World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018 fixtures: match results so far and full schedule
We are halfway through World Cup 2018's group games, but still none the wiser over who will win this summer's tournament. France won again, but are still struggling for rhythm, while Argentina's drubbing at the hands of Croatia on Thursday night leaves them on the brink of an early World Cup exit. Can Brazil stamp their authority on the tournament today? We will soon find out. With a busy schedule, here is our guide on how to watch every second of the action – a feast of pretty much non-stop football. The full World Cup 2018 fixture schedule is included below, with timings, venues and TV channels included. All times BST. Local times are BST +2 apart from games played in Kaliningrad (+1), Samara (+3) and Ekaterinburg (+4). Group stages Thursday 14 June Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0 Friday 15 June Egypt 0 Uruguay 1 Morocco 0 Iran 1 Portugal 3 Spain 3 Saturday 16 June France 2 Australia 1 Argentina 1 Iceland 1 Peru 0 Denmark 1 Croatia 2 Nigeria 0 Sunday 17 June Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Germany 0 Mexico 1 Brazil 1 Switzerland 1 Monday 18 June Sweden 1 South Korea 0 Belgium 3 Panama 0 Tunisia 1 England 2 Tuesday 19 June Colombia 1 Japan 2 Poland 1 Senegal 2 Russia 3 Egypt 1 Wednesday 20 June Portugal 1 Morocco 0 Uruguay 1 Saudi Arabia 0 Iran 0 Spain 1 Thursday 21 June Denmark 1 Australia 1 France 1 Peru 0 Argentina 0 Croatia 3 Friday 22 June Brazil vs Costa Rica (Group E) - St Petersburg - 1pm - ITV Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D) - Volgograd - 4pm - BBC Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E) - Kaliningrad - 7pm - BBC test - do not delete Saturday 23 June Belgium vs Tunisia (Group G) - Moscow (Spartak) - 1pm - BBC South Korea vs Mexico (Group F) - Rostov-on-Don - 4pm - ITV Germany v Sweden (Group F) - Sochi - 7pm - ITV Sunday 24 June England vs Panama (Group G) - Nizhny Novgorod - 1pm - BBC Japan vs Senegal (Group H) - Ekaterinburg - 4pm - BBC Poland vs Colombia (Group H) - Kazan - 7pm - ITV Monday 25 June Uruguay vs Russia (Group A) - Samara - 3pm - ITV Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (Group A) - Volgograd - 3pm - ITV Spain vs Morocco (Group B) - Kaliningrad - 7pm- BBC Iran vs Portugal (Group B) - Saransk - 7pm - BBC Tuesday 26 June Denmark vs France (Group C) - Moscow (Luzhniki) - 3pm - ITV Australia vs Peru (Group C) - Sochi - 3pm - ITV Nigeria vs Argentina (Group D) - St Petersburg - 7pm - BBC Iceland vs Croatia (Group D) - Rostov-on-Don - 7pm - BBC Wednesday 27 June South Korea vs Germany (Group F) - Kazan - 3pm - BBC Mexico vs Sweden (Group F) - Ekaterinburg - 3pm - BBC Serbia vs Brazil (Group E) - Moscow (Spartak) - 7pm - ITV Switzerland vs Costa Rica (Group E) - Nizhny Novgorod - 7pm - ITV Thursday 28 June Japan vs Poland (Group H) - Volgograd - 3pm - BBC Senegal vs Colombia (Group H) - Samara - 3pm - BBC England vs Belgium (Group G) - Kaliningrad - 7pm - ITV Panama vs Tunisia (Group G) - Saransk - 7pm - ITV Round of 16 (Matches in bold are potential England fixtures) Saturday 30 June Group C winner vs Group D runner-up - Kazan, 3pm (Match 50) Group A winner vs Group B runner-up- Sochi, 7pm (Match 49) Sunday 1 July Group B winner vs Group A runner-up- Moscow (Luzhniki), 3pm (Match 51) Group D winner vs Group C runner-up - Nizhny Novgorod, 7pm (Match 52) Monday 2 July Group E winner vs Group F runner-up - Samara, 3pm (Match 53) Group G winner vs Group H runner-up - Rostov-on-Don, 7pm (Match 54) Tuesday 3 July Group F winner vs Group E runner-up - St Petersburg 3pm (Match 55) Group H winner vs Group G runner-up - Moscow (Spartak), 7pm (Match 56) Quarter-finals Friday 6 July Winner match 49 vs Winner match 50 - Nizhny Novgorod, 3pm (Match 57) Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 - Kazan, 7pm (Match 58) Saturday 7 July Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 - Samara, 3pm (Match 60) Winner match 51 vs Winner match 52 - Sochi, 7pm (Match 59) Semi-finals Tuesday 10 July Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 - St Petersburg, 7pm (Match 61) Wednesday 11 July Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 - Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm (Match 62) Third place play-off Saturday 14 July Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 - St Petersburg, 3pm Final Sunday 15 July Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm Russia 2018 Predictor: Plot the path of the finals with our interactive World Cup wallchart ​ World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
6/21/18: Bumgarner blanks Padres, plates a run in win
Recap: SF 3, SD 0
6/21/18: Bumgarner blanks Padres, plates a run in win
6/21/18: Bumgarner blanks Padres, plates a run in win
Recap: SF 3, SD 0
6/21/18: Bumgarner blanks Padres, plates a run in win
6/21/18: Bumgarner blanks Padres, plates a run in win
Recap: SF 3, SD 0
6/21/18: Bumgarner blanks Padres, plates a run in win
En la imagen, el delantero argentino Lionel Messi en un momento del encuentro del Grupo D del Mundial de Rusia contra Croacia en el estadio Nizhny Novgorod, en Nizhny Novgorod, Rusia, el 21 de junio de 2018 REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Argentina lamenta el "fatídico" primer gol de Croacia que derrumbó al equipo
En la imagen, el delantero argentino Lionel Messi en un momento del encuentro del Grupo D del Mundial de Rusia contra Croacia en el estadio Nizhny Novgorod, en Nizhny Novgorod, Rusia, el 21 de junio de 2018 REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Having fallen out of favour at Goodison, the Argentine has moved on to pastures new as Marco Silva shapes his squad ahead of the new season
Funes Mori departs Everton to join Villarreal
Having fallen out of favour at Goodison, the Argentine has moved on to pastures new as Marco Silva shapes his squad ahead of the new season
The Former Real Madrid defender believes his former team-mate is the best number 10 on the planet
Modric hailed as world's best number 10 after humiliating Messi and Argentina
The Former Real Madrid defender believes his former team-mate is the best number 10 on the planet
What is it? It's the Group E fixture between Serbia and Switzerland. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? It's at 7pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BBC One will have live coverage. Alternatively, you can follow the action with our live blog. Where is the game being played? It will be played at the Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium What is the team news? Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami had a great game against Brazil but came off with a thigh strain after 70 minutes. However, manager Vladimir Petković is confident he'll be back in the starting XI against Serbia. Serbia boss Mladen Krstajic, meanwhile, has no major concerns following the win over Costa Rica. Serbia likely XI: Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic, Milinkovic-Savic, Tadic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Switzerland likely XI: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schaer, Akanji, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. What's the latest news? A topsy-turvy Group E could be thrown into further disorder when Serbia and Switzerland clash in a contest that could put one team on the brink of advancing to the knockout round. A group that was supposed to see mighty Brazil at the top instead has Serbia, the lowest ranked in the pack, looking down at everyone after a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in their opener while the South Americans and Switzerland battled to a 1-1 draw. At number six in the Fifa world rankings it is hard to call the industrious Swiss a surprise package but the stalemate with the five-time world champions still registered as a shock which shook up the group and indeed the World Cup. The stakes, however, get higher in Game Two with Serbia able to put something of a stranglehold on a knockout spot with a second consecutive victory while the Swiss can add to their dark horse status by following up with another positive result. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Delivering a suitable encore, however, has at times eluded Switzerland who eight years ago in South Africa beat eventual champions Spain in their World Cup opener but failed to advance out of the group stage. The Swiss are not seen as contenders for the trophy but the Alpine nation are unbeaten in their last six matches, including draws with two of the heavy favourites - Brazil and Spain. "I hope that people will take notice of us and take us seriously, sometimes there's a lack of recognition and that's a pity because we played very well," said Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic. The Swiss, as usual, are well organised and physical but will not intimidate the Serbs, who showed against Costa Rica that they too embrace the tough going. That could mean plenty of cards being flashed by the referee in a rough and tumble affair at Kaliningrad Stadium. While the Serbs have an attacking reputation both teams each scored just once in the opening matches, both from set pieces. World Cup whatsapp promo Switzerland's Steven Zuber rose high to head home from a corner to earn the draw against Brazil, while Aleksandar Kolarov curled home a superb free kick for Serbia's winner. "With respect to Switzerland we have analysed all three opponents," said Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, after his first competitive game in charge. "We know everything about Switzerland now we are going to watch for some details (from) when they played Brazil to make sure we have not missed any details." What are the odds? Serbia 17/10 Switzerland 2/1 Draw 21/10 What's our prediction? Switzerland will be buzzing after their gutsy 1-1 draw with Brazil while Serbia got their campaign off to a winning start. We think Serbia might just have the edge here, though. Prediction: Serbia 2-1 Switzerland WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? It's the Group E fixture between Serbia and Switzerland. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? It's at 7pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BBC One will have live coverage. Alternatively, you can follow the action with our live blog. Where is the game being played? It will be played at the Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium What is the team news? Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami had a great game against Brazil but came off with a thigh strain after 70 minutes. However, manager Vladimir Petković is confident he'll be back in the starting XI against Serbia. Serbia boss Mladen Krstajic, meanwhile, has no major concerns following the win over Costa Rica. Serbia likely XI: Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic, Milinkovic-Savic, Tadic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Switzerland likely XI: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schaer, Akanji, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. What's the latest news? A topsy-turvy Group E could be thrown into further disorder when Serbia and Switzerland clash in a contest that could put one team on the brink of advancing to the knockout round. A group that was supposed to see mighty Brazil at the top instead has Serbia, the lowest ranked in the pack, looking down at everyone after a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in their opener while the South Americans and Switzerland battled to a 1-1 draw. At number six in the Fifa world rankings it is hard to call the industrious Swiss a surprise package but the stalemate with the five-time world champions still registered as a shock which shook up the group and indeed the World Cup. The stakes, however, get higher in Game Two with Serbia able to put something of a stranglehold on a knockout spot with a second consecutive victory while the Swiss can add to their dark horse status by following up with another positive result. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Delivering a suitable encore, however, has at times eluded Switzerland who eight years ago in South Africa beat eventual champions Spain in their World Cup opener but failed to advance out of the group stage. The Swiss are not seen as contenders for the trophy but the Alpine nation are unbeaten in their last six matches, including draws with two of the heavy favourites - Brazil and Spain. "I hope that people will take notice of us and take us seriously, sometimes there's a lack of recognition and that's a pity because we played very well," said Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic. The Swiss, as usual, are well organised and physical but will not intimidate the Serbs, who showed against Costa Rica that they too embrace the tough going. That could mean plenty of cards being flashed by the referee in a rough and tumble affair at Kaliningrad Stadium. While the Serbs have an attacking reputation both teams each scored just once in the opening matches, both from set pieces. World Cup whatsapp promo Switzerland's Steven Zuber rose high to head home from a corner to earn the draw against Brazil, while Aleksandar Kolarov curled home a superb free kick for Serbia's winner. "With respect to Switzerland we have analysed all three opponents," said Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, after his first competitive game in charge. "We know everything about Switzerland now we are going to watch for some details (from) when they played Brazil to make sure we have not missed any details." What are the odds? Serbia 17/10 Switzerland 2/1 Draw 21/10 What's our prediction? Switzerland will be buzzing after their gutsy 1-1 draw with Brazil while Serbia got their campaign off to a winning start. We think Serbia might just have the edge here, though. Prediction: Serbia 2-1 Switzerland WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
What is it? It's the Group D tussle between Nigeria, who are looking for their first points of the World Cup, and Iceland, who hope to build on their fantastic draw with Argentina in their opening game. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? 4pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. Where is the game being played? Volgograd Arena, Volgograd World Cup 2018 stadium: Volgograd Arena What is the team news? In a potential blow for Iceland, winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson - who is central to the team's quick, counter-attacking style - is a doubt after tearing a muscle in the Argentina game. Playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, who recovered from injury just in time for the World Cup, played 90 minutes against the South Americans, raising hopes he will remain fit for Nigeria. Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has hinted that the speedy Ahmed Musa may play from the start to bolster their attack and stretch the play across the field. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Rohr also could move to a three-man defensive line after having opted for four against Croatia's three-man attacking line-up. But Rohr said Jon Obi Mikel, Nigeria's experienced captain, will likely continue to play in an offensive midfield position. What's the latest news on the two teams? While a draw for Iceland would keep their knock-out hopes alive, Nigeria, who are bottom of Group D, are under huge pressure to get all three points with manager Gernot Rohr saying his team must win. Striker Odion Ighalo promised Nigeria would be on the front foot after managing only two chances on target against Croatia. "The Iceland game will be different from the Croatian one," Ighalo said. "We want to attack that game and we want to create chances because only with chances you score goals." World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage So far, only one team from Africa have won at the World Cup - Senegal who beat Poland 2-1 on Tuesday - adding to the pressure on Nigeria. Since making their World Cup debut in 1994, the team has yet to progress beyond the round of 16, including four years ago in Brazil when Nigeria lost 2-0 to France at that stage. "We have to win against Iceland," Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said. "If we win the next game, all is possible for the qualification." test - do not delete What are the odds? Iceland 17/10 Nigeria 19/10 Draw 11/5 What's our prediction? Iceland showed against Argentina how hard they are to break down and Nigeria will find it difficult to collect the three points they need to boost their chances of trying to reach the knockout stages. Prediction: 1-1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Nigeria vs Iceland: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? It's the Group D tussle between Nigeria, who are looking for their first points of the World Cup, and Iceland, who hope to build on their fantastic draw with Argentina in their opening game. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? 4pm BST. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. Where is the game being played? Volgograd Arena, Volgograd World Cup 2018 stadium: Volgograd Arena What is the team news? In a potential blow for Iceland, winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson - who is central to the team's quick, counter-attacking style - is a doubt after tearing a muscle in the Argentina game. Playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, who recovered from injury just in time for the World Cup, played 90 minutes against the South Americans, raising hopes he will remain fit for Nigeria. Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has hinted that the speedy Ahmed Musa may play from the start to bolster their attack and stretch the play across the field. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Rohr also could move to a three-man defensive line after having opted for four against Croatia's three-man attacking line-up. But Rohr said Jon Obi Mikel, Nigeria's experienced captain, will likely continue to play in an offensive midfield position. What's the latest news on the two teams? While a draw for Iceland would keep their knock-out hopes alive, Nigeria, who are bottom of Group D, are under huge pressure to get all three points with manager Gernot Rohr saying his team must win. Striker Odion Ighalo promised Nigeria would be on the front foot after managing only two chances on target against Croatia. "The Iceland game will be different from the Croatian one," Ighalo said. "We want to attack that game and we want to create chances because only with chances you score goals." World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage So far, only one team from Africa have won at the World Cup - Senegal who beat Poland 2-1 on Tuesday - adding to the pressure on Nigeria. Since making their World Cup debut in 1994, the team has yet to progress beyond the round of 16, including four years ago in Brazil when Nigeria lost 2-0 to France at that stage. "We have to win against Iceland," Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said. "If we win the next game, all is possible for the qualification." test - do not delete What are the odds? Iceland 17/10 Nigeria 19/10 Draw 11/5 What's our prediction? Iceland showed against Argentina how hard they are to break down and Nigeria will find it difficult to collect the three points they need to boost their chances of trying to reach the knockout stages. Prediction: 1-1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
En la imagen, el jugador argentino Lionel Messi mira hacia el suelo junto a otros compañeros de equipo tras al primer gol de Croacia en su encuentro del Grupo D del Mundial de Rusia en el estadio Nizhny Novgorod, el 21 de junio de 2018. REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Croacia golea 3-0 a Argentina y la deja al borde de la eliminación del Mundial
En la imagen, el jugador argentino Lionel Messi mira hacia el suelo junto a otros compañeros de equipo tras al primer gol de Croacia en su encuentro del Grupo D del Mundial de Rusia en el estadio Nizhny Novgorod, el 21 de junio de 2018. REUTERS/Matthew Childs
The 2018 NBA Draft is in the books, here we recap the entire first round.
The 2018 NBA Draft first round in full
The 2018 NBA Draft is in the books, here we recap the entire first round.
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera, right, rounds the bases after hitting a home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 4-3. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
LEADING OFF: Herrera on home run roll, Trout a DH
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera, right, rounds the bases after hitting a home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 4-3. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Ichiro Suzuki, special assistant to the chairman of the Seattle Mariners, wears a fake mustache and a hoodie as he sits in the dugout and watches the New York Yankees bat during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Suzuki donned a Bobby Valentine-style disguise and sneaked into the Seattle dugout to watch a bit of the action at Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
LEADING OFF: Herrera on home run roll, Trout a DH
Ichiro Suzuki, special assistant to the chairman of the Seattle Mariners, wears a fake mustache and a hoodie as he sits in the dugout and watches the New York Yankees bat during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Suzuki donned a Bobby Valentine-style disguise and sneaked into the Seattle dugout to watch a bit of the action at Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera follows through after hitting a home run off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Luke Weaver during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
LEADING OFF: Herrera on home run roll, Trout a DH
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera follows through after hitting a home run off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Luke Weaver during the third inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera, left, hits a home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. At right is catcher Yadier Molina. Philadelphia won 4-3. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
LEADING OFF: Herrera on home run roll, Trout a DH
Philadelphia Phillies' Odubel Herrera, left, hits a home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Philadelphia. At right is catcher Yadier Molina. Philadelphia won 4-3. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Ichiro Suzuki, special assistant to the chairman of the Seattle Mariners, wears a fake mustache and a hoodie as he sits in the dugout and watches the New York Yankees bat during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Suzuki donned a Bobby Valentine-style disguise and sneaked into the Seattle dugout to watch a bit of the action. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
LEADING OFF: Herrera on home run roll, Trout a DH
Ichiro Suzuki, special assistant to the chairman of the Seattle Mariners, wears a fake mustache and a hoodie as he sits in the dugout and watches the New York Yankees bat during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Suzuki donned a Bobby Valentine-style disguise and sneaked into the Seattle dugout to watch a bit of the action. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Arizona Diamondbacks' Jon Jay drives in two runs with a double off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl during the second inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
LEADING OFF: Herrera on home run roll, Trout a DH
Arizona Diamondbacks' Jon Jay drives in two runs with a double off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl during the second inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Ichiro Suzuki, special assistant to the chairman of the Seattle Mariners, wears a fake mustache and a hoodie as he sits in the dugout and watches the New York Yankees bat during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Suzuki donned a Bobby Valentine-style disguise and sneaked into the Seattle dugout to watch a bit of the action. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
LEADING OFF: Herrera on home run roll, Trout a DH
Ichiro Suzuki, special assistant to the chairman of the Seattle Mariners, wears a fake mustache and a hoodie as he sits in the dugout and watches the New York Yankees bat during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Suzuki donned a Bobby Valentine-style disguise and sneaked into the Seattle dugout to watch a bit of the action. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
FILE - In this June 3, 2018, file photo, Martin Truex Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race in Long Pond, Pa. Truex hopes to continue the good times this weekend at Sonoma Raceway as he tries to pull closer to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick in the points standings. Truex won at Sonoma in 2013. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton, File)
Back at Sonoma, Truex works to build momentum
FILE - In this June 3, 2018, file photo, Martin Truex Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race in Long Pond, Pa. Truex hopes to continue the good times this weekend at Sonoma Raceway as he tries to pull closer to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick in the points standings. Truex won at Sonoma in 2013. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton, File)
Driver Martin Truex Jr. greets fans during driver introductions before a NASAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, June 10, 2018, in Brooklyn, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Back at Sonoma, Truex works to build momentum
Driver Martin Truex Jr. greets fans during driver introductions before a NASAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, June 10, 2018, in Brooklyn, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
FILE - In this June 3, 2018, file photo, Martin Truex Jr. does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race n Long Pond, Pa. Truex hopes to continue the good times this weekend at Sonoma Raceway as he tries to pull closer to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick in the points standings. Truex won at Sonoma in 2013. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton, File)
Back at Sonoma, Truex works to build momentum
FILE - In this June 3, 2018, file photo, Martin Truex Jr. does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race n Long Pond, Pa. Truex hopes to continue the good times this weekend at Sonoma Raceway as he tries to pull closer to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick in the points standings. Truex won at Sonoma in 2013. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton, File)
Defending champion Jordan Spieth downplayed the significance of his score after carding seven-under-par 63 to tie fellow American Zach Johnson for the first-round lead at the Travelers Championship on Thursday. Spieth and Johnson, between them winners of two of the past three British Opens, headed Britain's Rory McIlroy by one stroke as the cream quickly rose to the top on the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell, Connecticut. Americans Brian Harman and Peter Malnati joined Northern Ireland's McIlroy on 64. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka got to five-under after 11 holes but finished poorly with four late bogeys in a 68. "I just lost a bit of energy there at the end. Still don't really know where I'm at," a weary Koepka told reporters. He said he had only slept for about three hours on Sunday night after finally getting back home to Florida just before dawn. "I'm exhausted mentally. I'm still playing well so I'm not too worried about today." Travelers Championship round one leaderboard Spieth, buoyed by a 30-foot eagle from a bunker at the par-five sixth, was nearly flawless apart from a bogey at the par-four 15th, where he hooked his tee shot into a pond that was so far left it surprised the group waiting on the nearby 16th tee. The Texan, who made bogey at the 36th hole to miss the cut by one stroke at Shinnecock Hills last week, fared much better on the friendlier confines of TPC Connecticut. But he was not carried away by one good day. "I wouldn't say it was big or necessary or anything," Spieth told Golf Channel, four weeks ahead of defending his Open title at Carnoustie. "Very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year so it's good to see a good score but still a long way to go. Jordan Spieth during the first round Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports "First rounds have been detrimental to me so it's nice to be in the thick of things." Spieth has putted poorly for much of the year, but he sounded upbeat about his progress. "Putter feels great," he said. "I'm seeing my lines better and it's a matter of time I think before it gets to the level I've been at before." McIlroy, like Spieth, also bowed out after 36 holes at the U.S. Open, and put his unexpected free weekend to good use. "I've had a little time to practice over the last few days, working on some stuff that stood out the first two days at Shinnecock," he said. McIlroy hit 17 greens in regulation on Thursday. The only one he missed was at the par-four 18th, where he slipped while hitting his approach shot that resulted in a poor chip and missed putt for par. Watch the Travelers Championship on Sky Sports from 5.30pm on Friday
Golf highlights: Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson tie for lead at Travelers Championship with Rory McIlroy one behind
Defending champion Jordan Spieth downplayed the significance of his score after carding seven-under-par 63 to tie fellow American Zach Johnson for the first-round lead at the Travelers Championship on Thursday. Spieth and Johnson, between them winners of two of the past three British Opens, headed Britain's Rory McIlroy by one stroke as the cream quickly rose to the top on the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell, Connecticut. Americans Brian Harman and Peter Malnati joined Northern Ireland's McIlroy on 64. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka got to five-under after 11 holes but finished poorly with four late bogeys in a 68. "I just lost a bit of energy there at the end. Still don't really know where I'm at," a weary Koepka told reporters. He said he had only slept for about three hours on Sunday night after finally getting back home to Florida just before dawn. "I'm exhausted mentally. I'm still playing well so I'm not too worried about today." Travelers Championship round one leaderboard Spieth, buoyed by a 30-foot eagle from a bunker at the par-five sixth, was nearly flawless apart from a bogey at the par-four 15th, where he hooked his tee shot into a pond that was so far left it surprised the group waiting on the nearby 16th tee. The Texan, who made bogey at the 36th hole to miss the cut by one stroke at Shinnecock Hills last week, fared much better on the friendlier confines of TPC Connecticut. But he was not carried away by one good day. "I wouldn't say it was big or necessary or anything," Spieth told Golf Channel, four weeks ahead of defending his Open title at Carnoustie. "Very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year so it's good to see a good score but still a long way to go. Jordan Spieth during the first round Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports "First rounds have been detrimental to me so it's nice to be in the thick of things." Spieth has putted poorly for much of the year, but he sounded upbeat about his progress. "Putter feels great," he said. "I'm seeing my lines better and it's a matter of time I think before it gets to the level I've been at before." McIlroy, like Spieth, also bowed out after 36 holes at the U.S. Open, and put his unexpected free weekend to good use. "I've had a little time to practice over the last few days, working on some stuff that stood out the first two days at Shinnecock," he said. McIlroy hit 17 greens in regulation on Thursday. The only one he missed was at the par-four 18th, where he slipped while hitting his approach shot that resulted in a poor chip and missed putt for par. Watch the Travelers Championship on Sky Sports from 5.30pm on Friday
Defending champion Jordan Spieth downplayed the significance of his score after carding seven-under-par 63 to tie fellow American Zach Johnson for the first-round lead at the Travelers Championship on Thursday. Spieth and Johnson, between them winners of two of the past three British Opens, headed Britain's Rory McIlroy by one stroke as the cream quickly rose to the top on the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell, Connecticut. Americans Brian Harman and Peter Malnati joined Northern Ireland's McIlroy on 64. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka got to five-under after 11 holes but finished poorly with four late bogeys in a 68. "I just lost a bit of energy there at the end. Still don't really know where I'm at," a weary Koepka told reporters. He said he had only slept for about three hours on Sunday night after finally getting back home to Florida just before dawn. "I'm exhausted mentally. I'm still playing well so I'm not too worried about today." Travelers Championship round one leaderboard Spieth, buoyed by a 30-foot eagle from a bunker at the par-five sixth, was nearly flawless apart from a bogey at the par-four 15th, where he hooked his tee shot into a pond that was so far left it surprised the group waiting on the nearby 16th tee. The Texan, who made bogey at the 36th hole to miss the cut by one stroke at Shinnecock Hills last week, fared much better on the friendlier confines of TPC Connecticut. But he was not carried away by one good day. "I wouldn't say it was big or necessary or anything," Spieth told Golf Channel, four weeks ahead of defending his Open title at Carnoustie. "Very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year so it's good to see a good score but still a long way to go. Jordan Spieth during the first round Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports "First rounds have been detrimental to me so it's nice to be in the thick of things." Spieth has putted poorly for much of the year, but he sounded upbeat about his progress. "Putter feels great," he said. "I'm seeing my lines better and it's a matter of time I think before it gets to the level I've been at before." McIlroy, like Spieth, also bowed out after 36 holes at the U.S. Open, and put his unexpected free weekend to good use. "I've had a little time to practice over the last few days, working on some stuff that stood out the first two days at Shinnecock," he said. McIlroy hit 17 greens in regulation on Thursday. The only one he missed was at the par-four 18th, where he slipped while hitting his approach shot that resulted in a poor chip and missed putt for par. Watch the Travelers Championship on Sky Sports from 5.30pm on Friday
Golf highlights: Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson tie for lead at Travelers Championship with Rory McIlroy one behind
Defending champion Jordan Spieth downplayed the significance of his score after carding seven-under-par 63 to tie fellow American Zach Johnson for the first-round lead at the Travelers Championship on Thursday. Spieth and Johnson, between them winners of two of the past three British Opens, headed Britain's Rory McIlroy by one stroke as the cream quickly rose to the top on the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell, Connecticut. Americans Brian Harman and Peter Malnati joined Northern Ireland's McIlroy on 64. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka got to five-under after 11 holes but finished poorly with four late bogeys in a 68. "I just lost a bit of energy there at the end. Still don't really know where I'm at," a weary Koepka told reporters. He said he had only slept for about three hours on Sunday night after finally getting back home to Florida just before dawn. "I'm exhausted mentally. I'm still playing well so I'm not too worried about today." Travelers Championship round one leaderboard Spieth, buoyed by a 30-foot eagle from a bunker at the par-five sixth, was nearly flawless apart from a bogey at the par-four 15th, where he hooked his tee shot into a pond that was so far left it surprised the group waiting on the nearby 16th tee. The Texan, who made bogey at the 36th hole to miss the cut by one stroke at Shinnecock Hills last week, fared much better on the friendlier confines of TPC Connecticut. But he was not carried away by one good day. "I wouldn't say it was big or necessary or anything," Spieth told Golf Channel, four weeks ahead of defending his Open title at Carnoustie. "Very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year so it's good to see a good score but still a long way to go. Jordan Spieth during the first round Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports "First rounds have been detrimental to me so it's nice to be in the thick of things." Spieth has putted poorly for much of the year, but he sounded upbeat about his progress. "Putter feels great," he said. "I'm seeing my lines better and it's a matter of time I think before it gets to the level I've been at before." McIlroy, like Spieth, also bowed out after 36 holes at the U.S. Open, and put his unexpected free weekend to good use. "I've had a little time to practice over the last few days, working on some stuff that stood out the first two days at Shinnecock," he said. McIlroy hit 17 greens in regulation on Thursday. The only one he missed was at the par-four 18th, where he slipped while hitting his approach shot that resulted in a poor chip and missed putt for par. Watch the Travelers Championship on Sky Sports from 5.30pm on Friday
What is it? It's the Group E fixture between Brazil and Costa Rica where anything but victory could leave the Brazilians, one of the favourites in Russia, in a difficult position to advance to the knockout stages. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? It will start at 1pm BST. What TV channel is it on? You can watch live coverage on ITV or ITV HD. Alternatively, you can follow our live blog. Where is the game being played? It's taking place at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. World Cup 2018 stadium: Saint Petersburg Stadium What is the team news? Brazil have been going to great lengths to make sure everyone knows Neymar is fit. A day after he limped out of training and raised further doubts about his physical condition in Russia, Brazil's Football Federation was quick to tell the world the team's biggest star was just fine. Brazil had a closed practice session on Wednesday, but the federation posted photos and a video of Neymar in action in training with the rest of the squad. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game One of the photos showed the playmaker touching the ball with his injured right ankle. The images showed him exchanging passes and making challenges. In a longer version of the video sent to journalists, Neymar took free kicks. "Neymar practiced the whole time," Brazil later said on their official website. "He showed confidence and participated actively during the whole session." What's the latest news? Costa Rica are on the back foot having lost to Serbia in their opening game. "I don't think it was clear that any team deserved to win that game, but sometimes football is very complex - there's a very thin line between winning and losing," Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges said. The Costa Ricans, however, will not fall into the trap of focusing all their defensive efforts on Brazil playmaker Neymar. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage "If you concentrate too much on one guy, they can just put on another in attack, so you just have to be very organised, have good communication and marking. You can have everything planned but with this kind of player, it's tough," Borges added. Even with a decent result on Friday, Costa Rica face an uphill task in their final group game against a Swiss side that drew 1-1 with Brazil in their Group E opener, but Borges said the squad could still advance to the knockout rounds. "We Costa Ricans are capable of great things when we join together and stay tight. I always think there's a possibility," he said. What are the odds? Brazil 2/9 Costa Rica 18/1 Draw 11/2 What's our prediction? Brazil have a solid record against their south American rivals with their only defeat in nine meetings coming way back in 1960. We're predicting a comfortable win for Tite's side. Prediction: Brazil 2 Costa Rica 0.
World Cup 2018, Brazil vs Costa Rica: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? It's the Group E fixture between Brazil and Costa Rica where anything but victory could leave the Brazilians, one of the favourites in Russia, in a difficult position to advance to the knockout stages. When is it? Friday, June 22. What time is kick-off? It will start at 1pm BST. What TV channel is it on? You can watch live coverage on ITV or ITV HD. Alternatively, you can follow our live blog. Where is the game being played? It's taking place at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. World Cup 2018 stadium: Saint Petersburg Stadium What is the team news? Brazil have been going to great lengths to make sure everyone knows Neymar is fit. A day after he limped out of training and raised further doubts about his physical condition in Russia, Brazil's Football Federation was quick to tell the world the team's biggest star was just fine. Brazil had a closed practice session on Wednesday, but the federation posted photos and a video of Neymar in action in training with the rest of the squad. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game One of the photos showed the playmaker touching the ball with his injured right ankle. The images showed him exchanging passes and making challenges. In a longer version of the video sent to journalists, Neymar took free kicks. "Neymar practiced the whole time," Brazil later said on their official website. "He showed confidence and participated actively during the whole session." What's the latest news? Costa Rica are on the back foot having lost to Serbia in their opening game. "I don't think it was clear that any team deserved to win that game, but sometimes football is very complex - there's a very thin line between winning and losing," Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges said. The Costa Ricans, however, will not fall into the trap of focusing all their defensive efforts on Brazil playmaker Neymar. World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage "If you concentrate too much on one guy, they can just put on another in attack, so you just have to be very organised, have good communication and marking. You can have everything planned but with this kind of player, it's tough," Borges added. Even with a decent result on Friday, Costa Rica face an uphill task in their final group game against a Swiss side that drew 1-1 with Brazil in their Group E opener, but Borges said the squad could still advance to the knockout rounds. "We Costa Ricans are capable of great things when we join together and stay tight. I always think there's a possibility," he said. What are the odds? Brazil 2/9 Costa Rica 18/1 Draw 11/2 What's our prediction? Brazil have a solid record against their south American rivals with their only defeat in nine meetings coming way back in 1960. We're predicting a comfortable win for Tite's side. Prediction: Brazil 2 Costa Rica 0.
Kara Winger claimed her eight national title by winning the women's javelin competition at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 21, 2018 (AFP Photo/Patrick Smith)
Kara Winger claimed her eight national title by winning the women's javelin competition at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 21, 2018
Kara Winger claimed her eight national title by winning the women's javelin competition at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 21, 2018 (AFP Photo/Patrick Smith)
Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class
Tyson Ross strikes out three and allows only four hits over seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants
Ross' 7 innings of 1-run ball
Tyson Ross strikes out three and allows only four hits over seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants
Tyson Ross strikes out three and allows only four hits over seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants
Ross' 7 innings of 1-run ball
Tyson Ross strikes out three and allows only four hits over seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants
Tyson Ross strikes out three and allows only four hits over seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants
Ross' 7 innings of 1-run ball
Tyson Ross strikes out three and allows only four hits over seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants
Justin Anderson strikes out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to pick up the save in the Angels' 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays
Anderson notches the save
Justin Anderson strikes out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to pick up the save in the Angels' 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays
Justin Anderson strikes out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to pick up the save in the Angels' 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays
Anderson notches the save
Justin Anderson strikes out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to pick up the save in the Angels' 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays
Kole Calhoun belts a two-run homer to right-center field that just eludes a leaping Kevin Pillar, putting the Angels ahead 4-3 in the 4th
Calhoun's 2-run home run
Kole Calhoun belts a two-run homer to right-center field that just eludes a leaping Kevin Pillar, putting the Angels ahead 4-3 in the 4th
Kole Calhoun belts a two-run homer to right-center field that just eludes a leaping Kevin Pillar, putting the Angels ahead 4-3 in the 4th
Calhoun's 2-run home run
Kole Calhoun belts a two-run homer to right-center field that just eludes a leaping Kevin Pillar, putting the Angels ahead 4-3 in the 4th
Kole Calhoun belts a two-run homer to right-center field that just eludes a leaping Kevin Pillar, putting the Angels ahead 4-3 in the 4th
Calhoun's 2-run home run
Kole Calhoun belts a two-run homer to right-center field that just eludes a leaping Kevin Pillar, putting the Angels ahead 4-3 in the 4th
Justin Anderson strikes out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to pick up the save in the Angels' 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays
Anderson notches the save
Justin Anderson strikes out Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to pick up the save in the Angels' 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays
Luis Valbuena drills a two-run home run to left-center field, giving the Angels a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 5th inning
Valbuena's 2-run homer
Luis Valbuena drills a two-run home run to left-center field, giving the Angels a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 5th inning
Luis Valbuena slugs a pair of home runs to power the Angels' offense, hitting one to left field in the 5th and one to right field in the 7th
Valbuena's 2-homer game
Luis Valbuena slugs a pair of home runs to power the Angels' offense, hitting one to left field in the 5th and one to right field in the 7th
Luis Valbuena slugs a pair of home runs to power the Angels' offense, hitting one to left field in the 5th and one to right field in the 7th
Valbuena's 2-homer game
Luis Valbuena slugs a pair of home runs to power the Angels' offense, hitting one to left field in the 5th and one to right field in the 7th
Luis Valbuena slugs a pair of home runs to power the Angels' offense, hitting one to left field in the 5th and one to right field in the 7th
Valbuena's 2-homer game
Luis Valbuena slugs a pair of home runs to power the Angels' offense, hitting one to left field in the 5th and one to right field in the 7th
Luis Valbuena drills a two-run home run to left-center field, giving the Angels a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 5th inning
Valbuena's 2-run homer
Luis Valbuena drills a two-run home run to left-center field, giving the Angels a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 5th inning
Luis Valbuena drills a two-run home run to left-center field, giving the Angels a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 5th inning
Valbuena's 2-run homer
Luis Valbuena drills a two-run home run to left-center field, giving the Angels a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 5th inning
Kendrys Morales smashes a towering solo homer to right field, trimming the Blue Jays' deficit to 8-5 in the top of the 8th
Morales' towering solo homer
Kendrys Morales smashes a towering solo homer to right field, trimming the Blue Jays' deficit to 8-5 in the top of the 8th
Martin Maldonado rips a double down the left-field line to bring home Kole Calhoun, extending the Angels' lead to 7-3 in the 6th inning
Maldonado's RBI double to left
Martin Maldonado rips a double down the left-field line to bring home Kole Calhoun, extending the Angels' lead to 7-3 in the 6th inning
Kendrys Morales smashes a towering solo homer to right field, trimming the Blue Jays' deficit to 8-5 in the top of the 8th
Morales' towering solo homer
Kendrys Morales smashes a towering solo homer to right field, trimming the Blue Jays' deficit to 8-5 in the top of the 8th
Kendrys Morales smashes a towering solo homer to right field, trimming the Blue Jays' deficit to 8-5 in the top of the 8th
Morales' towering solo homer
Kendrys Morales smashes a towering solo homer to right field, trimming the Blue Jays' deficit to 8-5 in the top of the 8th
Luis Valbuena cracks a solo home run to right-center field, his second of the game, giving the Angels an 8-4 lead in the 7th
Valbuena's 2nd HR of the game
Luis Valbuena cracks a solo home run to right-center field, his second of the game, giving the Angels an 8-4 lead in the 7th
Martin Maldonado rips a double down the left-field line to bring home Kole Calhoun, extending the Angels' lead to 7-3 in the 6th inning
Maldonado's RBI double to left
Martin Maldonado rips a double down the left-field line to bring home Kole Calhoun, extending the Angels' lead to 7-3 in the 6th inning
Luis Valbuena cracks a solo home run to right-center field, his second of the game, giving the Angels an 8-4 lead in the 7th
Valbuena's 2nd HR of the game
Luis Valbuena cracks a solo home run to right-center field, his second of the game, giving the Angels an 8-4 lead in the 7th
Martin Maldonado rips a double down the left-field line to bring home Kole Calhoun, extending the Angels' lead to 7-3 in the 6th inning
Maldonado's RBI double to left
Martin Maldonado rips a double down the left-field line to bring home Kole Calhoun, extending the Angels' lead to 7-3 in the 6th inning
Luis Valbuena cracks a solo home run to right-center field, his second of the game, giving the Angels an 8-4 lead in the 7th
Valbuena's 2nd HR of the game
Luis Valbuena cracks a solo home run to right-center field, his second of the game, giving the Angels an 8-4 lead in the 7th
Justin Smoak laces a double to left-center field to drive in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., knotting the score at 2 in the top of the 3rd
Smoak's RBI double
Justin Smoak laces a double to left-center field to drive in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., knotting the score at 2 in the top of the 3rd
Justin Smoak laces a double to left-center field to drive in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., knotting the score at 2 in the top of the 3rd
Smoak's RBI double
Justin Smoak laces a double to left-center field to drive in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., knotting the score at 2 in the top of the 3rd
Justin Smoak laces a double to left-center field to drive in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., knotting the score at 2 in the top of the 3rd
Smoak's RBI double
Justin Smoak laces a double to left-center field to drive in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., knotting the score at 2 in the top of the 3rd
Randal Grichuk goes to the opposite field for a solo home run to right, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead in the top of the 4th
Grichuk's solo home run
Randal Grichuk goes to the opposite field for a solo home run to right, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead in the top of the 4th
Randal Grichuk goes to the opposite field for a solo home run to right, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead in the top of the 4th
Grichuk's solo home run
Randal Grichuk goes to the opposite field for a solo home run to right, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead in the top of the 4th
Randal Grichuk goes to the opposite field for a solo home run to right, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead in the top of the 4th
Grichuk's solo home run
Randal Grichuk goes to the opposite field for a solo home run to right, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead in the top of the 4th
Aledmys Diaz drills a double into the gap in left-center field, scoring Kendrys Morales to put the Blue Jays on the board in the 2nd
Diaz's RBI double
Aledmys Diaz drills a double into the gap in left-center field, scoring Kendrys Morales to put the Blue Jays on the board in the 2nd
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drills a solo home run to left-center field, cutting the Blue Jays' deficit to 7-4 in the top of the 7th inning
Gurriel Jr.'s solo home run
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drills a solo home run to left-center field, cutting the Blue Jays' deficit to 7-4 in the top of the 7th inning
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drills a solo home run to left-center field, cutting the Blue Jays' deficit to 7-4 in the top of the 7th inning
Gurriel Jr.'s solo home run
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drills a solo home run to left-center field, cutting the Blue Jays' deficit to 7-4 in the top of the 7th inning
Aledmys Diaz drills a double into the gap in left-center field, scoring Kendrys Morales to put the Blue Jays on the board in the 2nd
Diaz's RBI double
Aledmys Diaz drills a double into the gap in left-center field, scoring Kendrys Morales to put the Blue Jays on the board in the 2nd
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drills a solo home run to left-center field, cutting the Blue Jays' deficit to 7-4 in the top of the 7th inning
Gurriel Jr.'s solo home run
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drills a solo home run to left-center field, cutting the Blue Jays' deficit to 7-4 in the top of the 7th inning
Aledmys Diaz drills a double into the gap in left-center field, scoring Kendrys Morales to put the Blue Jays on the board in the 2nd
Diaz's RBI double
Aledmys Diaz drills a double into the gap in left-center field, scoring Kendrys Morales to put the Blue Jays on the board in the 2nd
Albert Pujols knocks a single to left-center field to drive in Justin Upton, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st
Pujols' RBI single
Albert Pujols knocks a single to left-center field to drive in Justin Upton, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st
Albert Pujols knocks a single to left-center field to drive in Justin Upton, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st
Pujols' RBI single
Albert Pujols knocks a single to left-center field to drive in Justin Upton, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st
Albert Pujols knocks a single to left-center field to drive in Justin Upton, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st
Pujols' RBI single
Albert Pujols knocks a single to left-center field to drive in Justin Upton, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st
A wild pitch allows Mike Trout to score the game's first run in his 1,000th career game in the bottom of the 1st inning
WP scores Trout in 1,000th game
A wild pitch allows Mike Trout to score the game's first run in his 1,000th career game in the bottom of the 1st inning
A wild pitch allows Mike Trout to score the game's first run in his 1,000th career game in the bottom of the 1st inning
WP scores Trout in 1,000th game
A wild pitch allows Mike Trout to score the game's first run in his 1,000th career game in the bottom of the 1st inning
A wild pitch allows Mike Trout to score the game's first run in his 1,000th career game in the bottom of the 1st inning
WP scores Trout in 1,000th game
A wild pitch allows Mike Trout to score the game's first run in his 1,000th career game in the bottom of the 1st inning
Denmark need only a point against France to qualify but Christian Eriksen says their strength in depth is a real force to be reckoned with.
Everything still to play for against 'very strong' France, says Eriksen
Denmark need only a point against France to qualify but Christian Eriksen says their strength in depth is a real force to be reckoned with.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for