When the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup commenced on 14th June 2018, who expected that the Runners Up of 2014 will be staring at an early exit from the competition within a week?
Argentina made the job of qualifying for the Knockout Stages of the tournament tough all by themselves when they surrendered to a prolific Croatian side suffering a 3-0 defeat at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Russia. This is the first time since 1974 that they’ve failed to register a win in their opening two matches and also their heaviest defeat in the group stages since 1958.
But, one silver lining amidst the clouds for the “La Albecieste” fans is that their team isn’t technically eliminated from the tournament. They still have but slim chances to qualify for the next round of the Competition. With Nigeria registering a win against Iceland last night. The scenario of Group D remains as the following:
- Croatia – 6 points of 2 matches
- Nigeria – 3 points of 2 matches
- Iceland – 1 point of 2 matches
- Argentina – 1 point of 2 matches
Iceland, although tied on same points as Argentina are ahead due to a better goal difference.
Argentina, to qualify for the Knockout Stages, have certain permutations and combinations to fulfill. First, they have to win their last group match against Nigeria and if possible with better goal difference. Apart from that, they’ve to check the results of Iceland who’ll be facing Croatia in the same day at the same time. It’s to be ensured by Croatia that Iceland doesn’t emerge out as the winner against them. If that happens, then the goal difference of the two teams will come into consideration for which, as mentioned earlier, Argentina not only have to win against Nigeria but that too handsomely. Argentina cannot afford to lose this match anyway.
Fulfilling these conditions will make Argentina advance to the next round of the tournament but the condition is very tricky and it’d be equivalent to miracle if Leo Messi and co. qualify for the next stages of the tournament. Even if they qualify, they’d be the second best team of Group D for which they’re likely going to face France who are well placed at the top position in their group with gaining the maximum number of points with both their matches.
The whole World is longing to see how Argentina overcomes this hurdle and how far they can go.
Can Jorge Sampaoli’s prove all critics wrong and pull off what would be a stunning comeback? Only time will tell us.