When Argentina headed to Russia to play the 21st edition of FIFA World Cup, they were heavily touted as the favourites to clinch the golden trophy. There was much talk around Argentine talisman Lionel Messi on how he can deliver the holy grail to his side and forge the greatest legacy ever. Fast forward 10 days into the world cup and both Messi and Argentina have failed miserably at the football showdown and now sit at the brink of ouster from the tournament.
Argentina produced a biteless performance in their world cup opener as a tough-tackling Iceland held them 1-1 by effectively containing the threat of Lionel Messi.
The La Albiceleste further topped their shambolic performance in the second game against Croatia as they suffered a historic 3-0 loss.
With Croatia (6 points) winning both of their opening games and Nigeria (3 points) managing a victory in their second, Argentina (1 point) now lies at the nadir of the Group D which has certainly turned out to be the Group of Death in Russia.
However, all is not lost for Jorge Sampaoli’s men as they can still advance to the round of 16. But it depends on a couple of crucial factors.
When Argentina meets Nigeria in their third and final group match, they have to win it at any cost.
Sampaoli’s men will sure hope the history to repeat itself, as it will be their 5th encounter having won the last 4 against the Super Eagles.
Given that Argentina wins, if Iceland loses to Croatia or even secures a draw in their final group fixture then all will be well. But if they manage to win the game against Croatia, which is highly unlikely, then it will be another uphill struggle for La Albiceleste.
If both Iceland and Argentina win their final matches on June 26, they both will be tied at 4 points and the only factor which will decide who advances to the round of 16 will be goal difference.
Hence, Lionel Messi and co will have to shift gears in the upcoming match and win the Tuesday game with Nigeria by a big goal difference or else their world cup contention will be effectively over.