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Starting XI: Argentina Vs Croatia

Under-pressure Lionel Messi and Argentina will take on Croatia in a must-win game in the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Thursday night. Here is how the teams will line up!

Click through the gallery above to see Argentina's star-studded starting XI.

FIFA World Cup, Group D

Teams: Argentina vs Croatia

Date: 21 June 2018

Time: 20:00

Venue: Nizhny Novgorad Stadium

Albiceleste manager Jorge Sampaoli has made a few changes to the line-up that played against Iceland in their opening game of the tournament, with defender Gabriel Mercado in from the start.

A win for Argentina is vital considering their 1-1 draw with Iceland, during which superstar and captain Lionel Messi missed a penalty that could have won his country the game.

Sampaoli's men do go into the match on a five-match unbeaten streak in World Cup games, but their European opponents are on the exact same run.

Croatia looked dominant against Nigeria in their win this past Saturday, with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic showing their international experience.

The last time these two teams met was in a friendly four years ago, a match that Argentina won 2-1. Messi was on the scoresheet that day, and also struck against the Croats in 2006.

The Albiceleste will take inspiration from Croatia's 2-0 loss to Brazil in a warm-up match prior of the tournament, while they were also beaten by Peru in March.

Croatia is currently ranked 20th in the FIFA rankings, while Argentina is fifth, but at competitions such as the World Cup, games are rarely straightforward.

The South Americans will need three points to give them their best chance of qualifying from the group, while three points for Croatia might guarantee them a spot in the round of 16.

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Here is how the teams will line up:

Argentina: Caballero; Otamendi, Mercado, Tagliafico; Salvio, Enzo Pérez, Mascherano, Acuña; Meza, Agüero, Messi. 

Croatia: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Brozovic; Rebic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic.

Do you think Croatia have what it takes to beat Argentina? Let us know in the comments section below. 

 

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