The trio are replaced by Acuna, Mercado and Enzo Perez in a radical shift from the side that failed to ignite in a 1-1 stalemate against Iceland.
Argentina is looking to rebound from a disappointing start to its World Cup after an opening-game draw with Iceland. Croatia was far from impressive in a 2-0 win over Nigeria, but it can take firm control of Group D with a win today.
Argentina are rallying around captain Lionel Messi as the South American giants prepare for their crucial Group D clash with Croatia on Thursday. Messi made an unhappy start to the World Cup on Saturday, missing what would have been a winning penalty as Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw by minnows Iceland. It was a result that has renewed doubts about Argentina’s ability to mount a sustained challenge at this World Cup, four years after they reached the final in Brazil. Another adverse outcome on Thursday and many may even start to consider the unthinkable – that Argentina could be on their way out at the group stage, mirroring their shock first round exit in 2002.
Legend Diego Maradona called the Iceland result a “disgrace” and warned coach Jorge Sampaoli he would not be able to return to Argentina with similar performances. Adding to the sense of disappointment, Messi’s missed penalty was accompanied by 11 unsuccessful shots, the most in a World Cup game without return by a single player since Italy’s Luigi Riva in 1970. Argentina’s players however have been quick to close ranks around the Barcelona superstar.
Live Updates of 2018 FIFA World Cup, Argentina vs Croatia, straight from Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
22:40 IST: Here is how the starting XI and player formation of Argentina and Croatia look.
22:25 IST: Hello and welcome to the live blog of the match between Argentina and Croatia straight from Nizhny Novgorod stadium.
Defender Cristian Ansaldi meanwhile insisted Messi was in good spirits despite the Iceland setback. Despite the solitary point against Iceland, Argentina can take solace from a performance which saw them muster 26 shots and have 72 per cent possession against Iceland. Sampaoli is reportedly considering several changes for the game, including drafting in young forward Cristian Pavon for Angel Di Maria for more creativity up front