Argentina will face a mammoth task against Nigeria on Tuesday, with a huge need to score several goals and win convincingly, in order to stop Iceland from picking the second ticket in Group D, as Croatia will field a weak team against the World Cup debutants.
Thursday’s 3-0 loss by Argentina to Croatia has put the South Americans on a tight rope and, while still holding unto faith that they can still make it through with victory against the Super Eagles, Croatia’s coach, Zlatko Dalic is not ready to give them any favours.
Though Dalic says he does not intend to give Iceland an undue advantage over Argentina, he insists that planning for the round of 16 clash against either France or Denmark means he has to keep his players fresh, by keeping them out of Tuesday’s formality match.
Consequently, 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.
An emphatic win over Jorge Sampaoli’s side in Nizhny Novgorod 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.
Dalic admits he will look to give his stars a break in the meeting in Rostov, meaning Argentina’s chances could be further reduced.
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.
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.”
“I think we’ll win over additional fans. Whoever watched this match, watched Croatia play, must start rooting for Croatia.”