Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is purportedly considering deserting the 4-2-3-1 formation utilised against Iceland for a 3-4-3 formation.

Boca Juniors winger Cristian Pavon could begin his first aggressive game, while Gabriel Mercado and Marcos Acuna may likewise gain recalls.

Croatia, who will achieve the last 16 with a win, are without Nikola Kalinic. The striker was sent home in the wake of declining to go ahead as a substitute against Nigeria, referring to a back issue.

The Croats didn't handle a perceived cautious midfielder in their opening game and must choose whether to stay with that strong line-up


23 Willy Caballero (Goalkeeper)
18 Eduardo Salvio (Midfielder)
2 Gabriel Mercado (Defender)
17 Nicolás Otamendi (Defender)
3 Nicolás Tagliafico (Defender)
14 Javier Mascherano (Defender)
15 Enzo Pérez (Midfielder)
13 Maximiliano Meza (Midfielder)
10 Lionel Messi (Forward)
8 Marcos Acuña (Midfielder)
19 Sergio Agüero (Forward)


23 Danijel Subašić (Goalkeeper)
2 Šime Vrsaljko (Defender)
6 Dejan Lovren (Defender)
21 Domagoj Vida (Defender)
3 Ivan Strinić (Defender)
7 Ivan Rakitić (Midfielder)
11 Marcelo Brozović (Midfielder)
18 Ante Rebić (Forward)
10 Luka Modrić (Midfielder)
4 Ivan Perišić (Midfielder)
17 Mario Mandžukić (Forward)

Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland followed a familiar script; a painful struggle to break down opponents who sit deep, plus costly defensive errors. It was their qualification campaign in microcosm – and while they eventually booked their place in Russia thanks to Lionel Messi’s hat-trick in Ecuador, this time the great man’s aim was wayward.

Messi had 11 shots at goal in the opening game (including a penalty), the most by a player at a World Cup without scoring since 1974.

Croatia didn’t need to be at their best to beat Nigeria 2-0, and only registered their first shot on target from open play in the 92nd minute.

The Croats are hoping to win back-to-back World Cup games for the first time since their brilliant debut campaign in 1998. They boast a star-studded midfield more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the Argentines, and know that a win will book their place in the knockout stage.


Argentina defender Gabriel Mercado: “This is a vital game. We need to win to go ahead of them.

“We know that Croatia has those two players in the centre (Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic) who have good control of the ball. They try to take a lead role too and they have other very good players.”

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic:
“There is no perfect way to stop Lionel Messi … he is the greatest player in the world.

“But while one excellent player can make a great result, a great team does the job much better … We will go into the game a little bit more relaxed than them.”