Every World Cup has its heroes and zeroes with some teams overachieving while others disappoint. Group D displays all from the extremely disappointing showing of Argentina to the heroic performances of Croatia and Nigeria.
Crotia made Argentina look amateur and Caballero’s mistake was just that…and amateur error made by a combination of lack of concentration as well as over confidence that perhaps come with the jersey. If this World Cup has shown anything so far, it is the lack of the effect the flag on the jersey makes on the field. Games are more unpredictable than ever and several powerhouses struggling in their groups is making this an exciting World Cup. Teams are able to make it harder to score on them by being able maintain a good shape on defense and almost every team boasts a player or two who can be a threat on the counter.
Caballero’s Karius-like error opened the door for Croatia and they blasted through, making Argentina look more and more hopeless as the minutes went by. Messi and company had to bring out the Nigerian flags to root for the Flying Eagles who were able to deliver and defeat an Iceland team that could not cope with the speed of Nigeria. Nigerian team made the Iceland team look slow and finally made one of my predictions for the group become reality.
So what is next for Messi and Argentina? Reports coming from the team camp speak of a coup against their coach led by the veterans on the roster. Players will reportedly make their own lineup and ignore their coach when they take the field against Nigeria for a must win game. A draw will be enough for Nigeria with Croatia already in the final 16. Will coach Sampaoli’s head scratching lineups continue or the players be able to end this downward spiral. Argentina’s poor performance is not a surprise if you have followed them during qualifying stages. Barely qualifying for the World Cup, the team has looked average at best despite the mounds of talent at their disposal including one of the best players of all time in Messi. While Messi has looked fairly pedestrian so far, his lack of leadership on this national team will only help the CR7 fans make their case for who is the better player. I am not even going there on this post but Messi has to be the one carrying this team if they hope to make it to the last 16.
Croatia will continue to win against Iceland in the last game even if they decide to rest some of their players. They seem to have great talent spread around the field and are especially loaded in midfield.
Argentina vs Nigeria is the game to watch on Match Day 3. Hard not to root for Nigeria and their brand of fast paced soccer on offense, but sad to see Messi bow out so early in the tournament. Will the rebellion of the team pay dividends? Did not work for France in 2010, let’s see how it fairs for Argentina
LIVERPOOL PLAYER WATCH : Lovren played an extremely solid game in stopping the attacking force of Argentina. He is definitely making a case for holding his starting spot in Liverpool with VVD and his performance might shape Klopp’s transfer plans and budget allocation. (8/10)