Argentina’s stock at the top online sportsbooks has fallen considerably. They say don’t kick a man when he’s down. But that’s exactly what Croatia has to do now. What exactly happened to Argentina? We have a theory. Remember in Mortal Kombat, when Sub-Zero would jump backwards and leave an icy effigy of himself? And then you would recklessly charge at him. And then you’d be frozen solid. And he would then be free to sucker punch you. Something akin to that must’ve happened to Argentina against Iceland. Or maybe someone told Lionel Messi that he needed to distinguish himself from Cristiano Ronaldo. And that the best way to achieve that would be to do the exact opposite of whatever CR7 did. In any case, Argentina was left reeling. Meanwhile, Croatia scored a solid 2-0 win against Nigeria. As a result, the Croatians lead Group D of the World Cup.
Messi choked harder than Papa Doc at the end of 8 Mile. And without Messi, Argentina is like a headless chicken running around aimlessly. How bad did Argentina play? So bad that Diego Maradona pretty much issued a fatwa on manager Jorge Sampaoli. “Playing like that, he can’t come back to Argentina,” the best football player in the history of the ever said. “It’s a disgrace. Not having prepared for the match knowing that Iceland are all 1.90m tall… I get the feeling there’s a general anger at the heart of the team.” Maradona didn’t spread the blame around, though. He not only spared Messi, but said he missed five penalties and remained Diego Armando Maradona. That’s a good point. Messi missed a penalty kick and he still is Lionel Messi. And perhaps therein lies the problem.
Sampaoli has been tinkering with his approach. Maybe he fears he will get homesick if he’s not allowed back in the old country. He has been in the lab. Testing a system with Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi and Nicolas Tagliafico as central defenders. He also switched Lucas Biglia for Marcos Acuna in training. He may do likewise with Cristian Pavon instead of Angel di Maria. But this is par for the course for Sampaoli. He’s never repeated a single lineup in 12 games. So, where do you think he’ll relocate to?
Maradona and Sampaoli aren’t the only ones who worship at the altar of Messi. Croatian center back Dejan Lovren is psyched to play “one of the best players in the world, maybe the best.” They do have a lot in common, actually. Messi avoids paying taxes likes he evades opposing defenders. And Lovren was allegedly unlawfully paid 50% of transfer fees that Dinamo received from Lyon. So they both really, really love money. And Messi stacks more paper than most footballers. So that’s probably what Lovren so much admires about him. In any case, there is little chance that the Croatians will be star-struck by Messi.
Argentina vs. Croatia Sportsbook Odds and Betting Information:
- Date: 21 June 2018
- Time: 21:00 MSK (UTC+3)
- Venue: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
- Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
- Best online sportsbook odds:
- Argentina +101
- Croatia +298
- Draw: +235
Odds taken from MyBookie.ag, one of the top online sportsbooks.
Prediction: Teams like Argentina or Portugal live and die by Messi or Ronaldo. Or more accurately, Portugal lives by Ronaldo. And Argentina dies by Messi. Argentina needs Messi to snap put out of it. But he’s historically underwhelming in major tournaments. Like the Copa America. And, of course, the World Cup. It might be bold to pick Croatia to win this one. But maybe only on paper. Even when Argentina is the favorite, it has become more and more a nominal favorite at the top online sportsbooks.