Mateo Kovacic is optimistic Croatia can beat tournament favorites Argentina ahead of their second group D encounter because they are a better team than the two-time World Cup winners.
The two teams heavily tipped to progress from the group stages according to pundits meet on Thursday, with the Albiceleste suffering a significant setback against Iceland in the first group game that ended in a stalemate, while Croatia cruised to a 2-0 win over Nigeria.
Croatia who made their World Cup debut in France 98′ and ended up in the semi-finals, will fancy their chances against Jorge Sampaoli’s men and a win could cement their place in the round of 16.
That would be a massive shock for the Argentines considering the pre-tournament billing and the quality in their ranks particularly the skipper Lionel Messi
The Croatian midfielder, though, insists that Messi is the only advantage the South Americans hold, believing that the rest of their team is better to a man.
“Argentina depends a lot on Messi, although they are a great team in other positions,” he told reporters. “He has to take care of them most of the time. He is phenomenal; he can resolve the game at any time.”
He added: “We do not need to be too afraid of Argentina, we are singularly better than them, except Messi, and so we should behave, look at ourselves, not others.”
On the other hand, Croatians can always rely on the services of Madrid duo Modric and Kovacic, Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic in the middle of the park and Serie A based players Mario Mandzukic and Perisic to supply the goals in attack.
In the other group fixture, Nigeria will be hoping to get back to winning ways against debutants Iceland in a fixture that may decide the destiny of the teams in the group.