How Croatia plan to stop Argentina from entering Round 2 of 2018 World Cup
Argentina need a favour from Croatia against Iceland but Zlatko Dalic plans to rest some key players for their final 2018 World Cup group gamefootball Updated: Jun 22, 2018 17:01 IST
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic says he will rest players in their final World Cup group match against Iceland, potentially dealing a damaging blow to Argentina’s hopes of going through. (SCHEDULE | RESULTS | STANDINGS)
An emphatic 3-0 win over Jorge Sampaoli’s side in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday secured Croatia’s place in the last 16, while leaving their opponents with just one point from two games.
Argentina must beat Nigeria in their final Group D game to stand a chance of going through, but Iceland will pip them to a spot in the knockouts if they claim four points from their remaining two matches against Nigeria and Croatia.
And Dalic admits he will look to give his stars a break in the meeting in Rostov, meaning Argentina’s chances could be further reduced.
When asked if he will rest any players against Iceland, despite first place in the group being up for grabs, Dalic told a news conference: “Yes, I will.”
He added that he hopes Croatia will have earned more neutral support at the World Cup after taking six points from two matches, in which they scored five goals and conceded none.
“I think we’ll win over additional fans,” he said. “Whoever watched this match, watched Croatia play, must start rooting for Croatia.”
Dalic’s side trained at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Wednesday, while Argentina decided to hold their last session in Moscow before heading to the city.
It was suggested that Croatia’s decision to prepare at the ground may have helped their preparations, but Dalic revealed he had not even done tactical drills with his players in the last 48 hours, instead relying on their desire to impress against the group favourites.
“I’ll tell you one thing: we haven’t done tactics over the past two days,” he said. “I wanted to relieve my players of the stress, to go onto the pitch and enjoy it.
“I said this would be the easiest match, not because Argentina are poor but because of our motivation. My players and everyone at home enjoyed it.”
First Published: Jun 22, 2018 12:47 IST