World Cup 2018: Where Croatia succeeded

With Croatia completing one of the biggest results in the FIFA World Cup competition so far, much of the attention is on what the Argentines did wrong in their contest.

The clash between one of the top South American nations going against an emerging European squad was mouth-watering for most as many assumed Croatia would be the biggest task against Argentina.

With Lionel Messi in the line-up, the Argentines were still favoured to win the game but Croatia had other plans as they did not just win the game, they dominated the 2014 runners-up en route to a convincing 3-0 victory.

There were many storylines on that epic encounter, and here are some of the things that Croatia did right in order to beat Argentina.

STOPPING ARGENTINAโ€™S POTENT ATTACK

It was not a secret that the strength of Argentina is in their attack. With players like Messi, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, the South American squad were expected to run rampant against defences in the World Cup.

To Croatiaโ€™s credit, they were able to nullify any attack from Argentina especially in the first half. It was a crucial half where the game was relatively even, but Argentina failed to even get a single shot on target to challenge goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Croatia were far from perfect as an error from Subasic and Dejan Lovren should have resulted in at least a decent chance by the Argentines, but they still failed to secure the goal and Croatia bounced back later on to make them pay.

Aguero was basically a bystander in the game after supplying a goal in Argentinaโ€™s first match of the World Cup. Croatia limited the Manchester City man to only 16 touches in 53 minutes before he was eventually substituted off the pitch.

CROATIAN STARS SHOWED UP

Unlike the Argentina squad, Croatia were led by their stars to get the impressive 3-0 victory.

The midfield geniuses of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric caught the Argentine defence off-guard for most of the match and they dominated the opposing midfield as they wrestled away possession in order to orchestrate their own attacks.

Rakitic and Modric played close to perfection, registering six shots for the game and both scoring a goal each. Modric had the second most touches for Croatia while Rakitic was third and they also combined for three key passes.

Furthermore, Rakitic kept close tabs on his Barcelona teammate Messi throughout most of the game, not allowing the Argentine to make his explosive runs towards the box and restricting the ball from reaching Messi at all costs.

A DAY TO FORGET FOR MESSI

Speaking of the Argentine star, he cut an obviously flustered and disappointed look for most of the match.

Leading up to the World Cup, many speculated that this would be the competition that would pit Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi to lead their respective nations to glory. The former has done so, scoring four goals in the competition so far. On the other hand, Messi has yet to break the goal line.

After a poor performance against Iceland where he missed a penalty kick, many assumed that Messi would bounce back against the Croatians.

It was not meant to be and the Europeans were able to nullify any attack that he tried through 90 minutes. He failed to register a single shot on goal, only attempting once all night. Messi only completed 75% of his passes and had to move out of his regular position to get a touch of the ball.

Croatia made things uncomfortable for the Barcelona man, resulting in him only touching the ball 49 times which is six more than their goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

With the win, Croatia have done more than expected and will be rewarded with a spot in the knockout stage where they are likely to do more damage and offer a few more surprises.

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