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Argentina on the brink as Croatia top group D

Argentina suffered another blow to their hopes of qualifying from the knockout phase after a shocking 3-0 loss to Croatia that marked their biggest loss in World Cup group stages since 1958.

Jorge Sampaoli’s men continued to make headlines for the wrong reasons as they failed to record a win in their opening two group matches for the first time since 1974, securing only one point in the process. The manager who has come under intense scrutiny and heavy criticism didn’t quell any speculations surrounding him citing an unusual line-up for the game.

Big name players like Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala were left on the bench as the Albiceleste struggled to break down the Croatians. The Argentine fans were hoping for an improved performance following the stalemate against Iceland only to see an abysmal display.

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The best chance fell for Croatia in the first-half when Perisic went close with a shot followed by Mandzukic who met a cross from Rakitic but failed to convert from close range as his header went agonizingly wide from goal. The Argentines started the second half on a brighter note and were rewarded with an opening when Daniejl Subasic saved Aguero’s shot.

Things went from good to worse when Chelsea goalkeeper Cabellero committed a howler with a poor clearance that fell for Croatian striker Rebic to power home from close range. Sampaoli brought in Higuain, Pavon, and Dybala to rescue a point from the game but Modric had other ideas as his long-range effort in the 81st minute complicated issues for the South Americans, while Lionel Messi’s Barca teammate Rakitic added salt to the injury with a third goal in stoppage time to complete the rout.

Lionel Messi and his teammates face the possibility of exiting the competition in the group stages and need results in the other match between Nigeria and Iceland to go their way, with the last game against the West Africans likely to be the decider of the second spot in the group.

A repeat of similar performance in the last group game could equally spell the end for the former World Champions considering the entire team were poor from the defence line to attack.

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