Messi and co set for difficult Croatia test

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Lionel Messi’s missed penalty cost Argentina the win in their Group D opener against Iceland and the skipper could be set for another tough evening against Croatia on Thursday.

Both teams to score @ 1/1

Argentina endured a difficult qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup and that shaky form was witnessed once again as they rather stumbled to a 1-1 draw against Iceland. Messi’s penalty miss was a huge factor in the game and he will be hoping to make amends for that error.

The 30-year-old, who is 11/10 to score anytime, is one of a number of attacking threats in La Albiceleste’s squad, with Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala all in red-hot form in front of goal.

It is the defence that has always been the issue for the Argentine’s, who conceded 10 goals in five friendlies prior to the tournament in Russia, and that is why backing BTTS at 1/1 looks great value.

Croatia secured a comfortable 2-0 victory against Nigeria in their opening match and they have scored an average of two goals per game from their previous five World Cup matches.

Zlatko Dalic is also blessed with a plethora of attacking options, with Ivan Perisic, Mario Mandzukic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric all capable of scoring goals for their country.

With both teams looking stronger in attack than defence, I think goals are a certainty in the contest and this should make for an entertaining clash between the pair.

Half time/Full time – Draw/Argentina @ 7/2

Jorge Sampaoli will be demanding a response from his players after the opening draw whilst Dalic would likely be happy to walk away with a share of the spoils to improve their chances of reaching the last-16.

Thursday will mark the second World Cup meeting between the two nations with Argentina picking up a narrow 1-0 win back in France 1998 – Mauricio Pineda grabbing the only goal on that occasion.

The quality on the South American teams’ bench could prove absolutely vital as the match enters the latter stages and this is where I expect Sampaoli’s side to press home that advantage.

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