Milan

Milan slideshow

8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: live score updates
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: live score updates
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: live score updates
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: live score updates
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: live score updates
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: live score updates
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
World Cup 2018, Serbia vs Switzerland: live score updates
8:08PM 51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 8:07PM 50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 8:06PM 48 min Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 8:04PM 46 min An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 8:03PM Half-time substitution Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 7:53PM Record-breakers Cue Roy Castle: Mitrovic scores for Serbia and that equals the record for consecutive games at a World Cup without a goalless draw. 26 games, the same as in Switzerland in 1954 when every single game had a goal. Just knockout in those days.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 22, 2018 7:50PM Half-time As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 7:48PM 45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 7:47PM 45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone. 7:46PM 45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 7:44PM 43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 7:42PM 41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail. 7:40PM 39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 7:39PM 37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save: Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images 7:35PM 35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 7:34PM 33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 7:32PM 31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. Attempt Saved: Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Blerim Dzemaili, 30 min) 7:29PM 29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 7:28PM 27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 7:27PM 25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. Serbia vs Switzerland 7:24PM 23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 7:23PM 21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 7:20PM 18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 7:18PM 15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. Possession: Serbia vs Switzerland 7:15PM 13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 7:12PM 10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal: Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images 7:10PM 8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently. 7:08PM 6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland (Aleksandar Mitrovic, 5 min) 7:06PM Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 7:05PM 4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 7:03PM 2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 7:01PM 1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 6:56PM Time for the national anthems Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 6:54PM The BBC pundits Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 6:33PM Meet Vladimir Petkovic Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys. Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 6:28PM How the groups stands before kick-off 6:22PM Fancy impersonating VAR? What have you come as? test - do not delete How VAR could have changed past World Cups 6:08PM And finally those teams in the classical style Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic. Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic. World Cup record: Serbia Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic. Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki. World Cup record: Switzerland Referee Felix Brych (Ger) 6:01PM Spoiler alert Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 5:58PM The rumours were true One change - Kostic replaces Ljajic. Startnih 1⃣1⃣ | ������️���� ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#SrcemSvim ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#Orlovi#WorldCup#SRB#FSSpic.twitter.com/bMDvMc3fIt— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA Serbia (@FSSrbije) June 22, 2018 5:50PM No official word from Serbia But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 5:48PM Switzerland are unchanged Aufstellung / Compo / Formazione#HoppSchwiiz#HopSuisse#ForzaSvizzera#HopSvizra#SRBSUIpic.twitter.com/q64htHAT7Z— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 22, 2018 5:35PM Kaliningrad Stadium You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!': Kaliningrad Stadum Credit: David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images England play Belgium here on Thursday. 5:29PM Defusing a powder keg Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past. Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion. World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.” Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.
FILE PHOTO: The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan, Italy April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan
FILE PHOTO: The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan, Italy April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan, Italy April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan
FILE PHOTO: The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan, Italy April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan, Italy April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan
FILE PHOTO: The AC Milan logo is pictured on a pennant in a soccer store in downtown Milan, Italy April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.
Lionel Messi's Argentina on brink of World Cup exit after Croatia drubbing
The mute prince of world football seemed to know something was wrong from kick-off, a hand to his brow, some whispered words for none but himself, and that was even before Lionel Messi opened his eyes and looked around at the worst Argentina team in memory. You could say he tried to save them, but really Messi was more like a grief-stricken relative at the bedside, occasionally rubbing a hand while coming to terms with the reality of the situation. It felt like a long time since someone was handing him a goat and asking him to look at the camera over there, indeed there were times when a goat in a blue and white shirt might have been a better option than whatever Jorge Sampaoli was trying to do. Up in the hospitality seats Diego Maradona had a minder who would ease him gently back when he looked like toppling over the screen in front of him, both expending more nervous energy on this Argentina performance than the man who inherited the No 10 shirt. They are not out yet but a win for Iceland against Nigeria on Friday would put Argentina on the brink, and their destiny in this World Cup finals has already slipped from their control. Messi's Argentina were highly disappointing in their second match Credit: REUTERS Messi had his first shot in the 64th minute, perfectly isolated by what Luka Modric would later describe as the perfect game-plan, and yet it felt like the Argentina captain came onto the pitch with a premonition of what was to come. The old inscrutability had slipped, and instead he seemed to be worrying, and with good reason. Sampaoli’s three-man defence was a disaster, compounded by goalkeeper Willy Caballero’s error for the first goal. Willy Caballero holds his head in his hands after gifting Croatia their first goal Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado The Argentina coach was a mix of despair and anger on the touchline, responding to Ante Rebic’s first goal by replacing Sergio Aguero before the hour with Gonzalo Higuain, the Manchester City striker returning to the bench in disbelief. The grief at the end from an Argentina support that dominated the Nizhny stadium was real, not the kind confected for the television cameras, at a team so hopelessly configured. If Argentina kept their masterpiece in the attic, under a dust sheet, then Croatia made the most of their stars, with the second and third goals coming from Modric and Ivan Rakitic. They controlled an Argentinian midfield that was hopelessly out of its depth and Marcelo Brozovic screened off Messi from the game until the little maestro realised that he might as well be stood on the stadium concourse for all the decent service he was getting. Later Sampaoli would intimate that it was unfair to compare Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo when this current Argentina team was so poor. Yet it was him who called in three new players, two of them over 30 - Gabriel Mercado and Enzo Perez - both of whom looked below the required standard. Paulo Dybala was only his third substitution. Ever Banega and Angel Di Maria did not play a minute and the tone of the questioning from the Argentine media left no doubt where they saw the blame lying. This was a triumph for the Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic whose team are through to the second round now and vindicated in his decision to send home AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic for defying him during the win over Nigeria. Dalic said he intended to rest his whole team for the third game, which may yet not be the case but even so it will not do Argentina’s chances any favours. Croatia could rest their entire team for their third group game Credit: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado “Emotionally broken” was Sampaoli’s description of his side after Rebic’s goal, a joint enterprise with Caballero whose miscued pass was taken on the volley at hip-height by the wing-back and lashed back past him. It was the confident finish of a player, and a team, without any fears about a match of this kind whereas in Argentina’s ranks there was just hesitation and doubt and then finally, as Nicolas Otamendi struck a ball at Rakitic on the ground, there was anger. The Manchester City defender was dragged left and right by Modric before he shaped a shot inside Caballero’s post and out of his reach, the game’s outstanding moment. Modric and Rakitic had controlled the game, a reminder to Messi of the standard of support act to which he is accustomed. Somehow he seemed to be on the wrong team, on the wrong side of the argument, well aware that humiliation was looming having dished out humiliations of this kind himself so many times himself. In the first half, Argentina had created chances - just for the wrong people. Perez, a 32-year-old midfielder with 23 caps before this night and very few goals in his career missed when he had time to stroke the ball inside the post. It was not as if the centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren were immune to mistakes, it was just that if they were going to make them Croatia were sure that it would not be when Messi was on the ball. When Rakitic and the substitute Mateo Kovacic broke away to combine for the former to score, the three goals felt about right - Rakitic had earlier hit the bar with a free-kick. Messi has had 12 shots in the tournament, more than any other player, and no goals. He was straight off at the final whistle, past the cameras and the officials and back into his own black thoughts. 11:17PM That's all for tonight, folks What a game. Croatia were brilliant and Argentina were woeful. Rakitic, Rebic and Modric stole the limelight with captivating performances. Tomorrow, people will be talking about Messi and Argentina, but this Croatian team could well be a force to reckon with as the competition goes on. I'll leave you with Diego Maradona's tears. Good night. Despair, disbelief, Diego Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 10:48PM What was wrong with Lionel Messi, asks Daniel Zeqiri The striker's pained pre-match pose encapsulates Argentina's night Even before the match, Lionel Messi did not look at ease Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP 10:35PM Lawro Watch I had almost forgotten about Mark Lawrenson, and maybe that's a good thing. He wasn't the story of this game, and that's how it should be. Yes, there were some less than funny quips, but there was so much going on he barely had time to tie himself in knots. At first he lamented the players going down too easily, but a few meaty tackles soon put that idea to bed. Alan Tyers was right. 10:21PM Aguero and Mascherano speak "There is still a chance," says Aguero. "We have to wait for tomorrow's result and then beat Nigeria." Mascherano added: "After the first goal, everything became complicated. After that, everything changed." 10:15PM Why are the big teams under-performing? Argentina's entry will need updating in this article entitled: Why are the World Cup favourites floundering? They played with three at the back and were cut open time and time again. Mascherano dropped back to help out but by then the team was split in two. They had Dybala, Pavon, Messi and Higuain all playing up top. There was simply no midfield. 9:52PM Sampaoli continues.. "After the first goal, the team was hit hard. In the second half we tried to put on players to turn the game, but it didn't work." 9:50PM Sampaoli wanted lift-off, but Argentina stalled Sampaoli continues: "The game plan did not come off. We were very excited before the game, as we wanted to achieve qualification. This result has taken that away. We thought it would be a game that would give us lift-off, but it didn't." 9:47PM Sampaoli speaks! Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli is speaking to the media. "I am responsible for making the decisions. It isn't human to blame Caballero. I was very hopeful and this defeat really hurts. Of course I didn't see the game going like that. We did not find the best team to accompany Messi." 9:42PM The Croatians had a go too... Domagoj Vida holds up the run of Cristian Pavon Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Modric gets stuck in to Mascherano Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images Eventually it all spilled over Credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images 9:36PM Check out some of these tackles... Gabriel Mercado makes sure there is no way through for Ante Rebic Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Maximiliano Meza flies into Sime Vrsaljko Credit: Jan Kruger/Getty Images Nicolas Otamendi was nowhere near the ball on this one. Mario Mandzukic bore the brunt. Credit: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images 9:28PM It was only a joke, Diego.... Diego Maradona really is crying for Argentina. It's easy to understand why. Diego Maradona cries as Argentina go down to Croatia Credit: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista 9:20PM Shots aplenty in Nizhny Novgorod Argentina vs Croatia shots on goal 9:14PM This is that match in one minute. It really was sublime Match in a Minute as Argentina collapse against Croatia #WorldCuphttps://t.co/2pGczhc1APpic.twitter.com/CohQ7ciMMa— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 21, 2018 9:12PM Joy for Croatia This was Croatia’s first victory in five attempts against South American nations at the World Cup, having lost each of their previous four. This is only the second time Croatia have won both of their opening two games at a World Cup, after the 1998 tournament that saw them reach the semi-finals. Ante Rebic had only ever scored once for Croatia, in a friendly against Liechtenstein back in August 2013. I think this one was better. 9:10PM Cry for me, Argentina It's all doom and gloom for Argentina. This was their heaviest defeat in the first round group stages of a World Cup tournament since losing 1-6 to Czechoslovakia in 1958. They have failed to win either of their opening two group stage matches for the first time since 1974. Lionel Messi had one shot on goal against Croatia. One. 9:07PM Stat attack 38 fouls. Seven yellow cards. 22 fouls committed by Croatia and 16 by Argentina. In the main, Argentina's were much worse, but that is a phenomenal rate of fouling. 9:04PM Those tackles... It really was a brutal game in Nizhny Novgorod, with tackles flying in everywhere. I've got some stats coming up for you... 9:00PM That first goal... Should Rebic have been on the pitch when he scored? Plenty were calling for red, and they may well have been right. Either way, he was on the pitch and took advantage of Caballero's moment of madness. It was a truly brilliant finish, volleying back over Caballero. 8:57PM The Telegraph's Cesc Fabregas has his say Fabregas is spot on. Argentina played with five attackers and five defenders. That's an opposition midfielders dream. Argentina were all over the place. 8:52PM Full Time - Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Wow. Croatia have taken Argentina to the cleaners. Three goals to nothing, and fully deserved. 8:51PM 94mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Messi looks miserable. He is kicking the ground. He has hardly seen the ball. 8:51PM 93 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Corluka, who has just come on for his 100th Croatian cap has just been carded. 8:50PM 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 Rakitic took the ball and hit it at Caballero. He palmed it into the path of Kovacic, who played it back across goal to Rakitic. He finished into an empty net. 3-0. Argentina look broken. Argentina 0 - 3 Croatia (Ivan Rakitic, 90 + 1 min) 8:49PM Goooooal 90 mins -Argentina 0 - Croatia 3 AND IT'S THREE - Rakitic finishes off the break and scores. 8:48PM 89 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Meza has a shot, but it is palmed away by Subasic. Argentina corner is cleared, and Croatia break........ 8:46PM 88 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 There have been an incredible 34 fouls in this match. 21 by Croatia, 13 by Argentina. 8:44PM 87 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Acuna goes into the book for a foul on Vrsaljko. Six yellow cards in the game. 8:44PM 86 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Rakitic hits the crossbar. Caballero was beaten as Rakitic hit the ball over a high-leaping wall. What a hit. 8:43PM 85 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 It's all kicking off now. Tempers flaring as Mascherano fouls Rakitic. What happened next? Otamendi fires the ball at Rakitic's head while he is lying on the ground. Otamendi carded. Croatia free-kick. 8:41PM 82 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 Perisic has come off and is replaced by Real Madrid's Kovacic. Peresic has put in a good shift tonight. 8:39PM 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 What a finish! Modric, outside the area, picks up the ball from Brozovic, and curls the ball to the right, past the outstretched Caballero and into the inside side-netting. He runs away with his arms in the air. Croatia are going bonkers. 2-0 they lead. And they deserve it too. Argentina 0 - 2 Croatia (Luka Modric, 80 min) 8:38PM GOAL 80 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 2 .... And Modric fires Croatia into a 2-0 lead! 8:37PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Rakitic plays a one-two with Brozovic and shoots, but it is well blocked by Mercado. Croatia on the attack again... 8:36PM 79 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 The corner comes to nothing, and is cleared by the first man. Perisic,who has been very good tonight, runs up the other end, but fouls Otamendi on his way through. 8:35PM 77 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Pavon breaks down the left and is slide tackled by Lovren. Good tackle. Corner Argentina. 8:34PM 75 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 It's all heating up here. Rakitic went down in the centre circle, but Croatia continued to attack. They made it all the way to the Argentina area, lost the ball, and then pleaded for the referee to blow for the original foul, which he did. Argentina players furious. Rakitic is winded, but looks fine to continue. 8:32PM 74 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Krameric replaced Rebic, the goalscorer, just before that chance. Croatia tightening up now for the last 15 minutes. 8:30PM 72 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mascherano disposessed by Mandzukic and the ball is crossed to Krameric, who tries to do it all on his own but cant get a cross in. 8:29PM 71 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Dybala looks bright and fires just over the crossbar from outside the area. Argentina really really need a goal if they want to make life easier for themselves against Nigeria. This group is wide open. 8:28PM 70 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Caballero has no-one to blame but himself for the Croatia goal Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan Calamity Caballero, they'll be calling him. 8:26PM 68 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Enzo Perez makes way for Paulo Dybala. Argentina are throwing everything at Croatia now. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Pavon all looking for an equaliser. 8:25PM 67 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Marcos Acuna is fouled by Vrsaljko, who is shown a yellow card. That's the fourth this game. 8:24PM 66 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another chance for Mandzukic and Croatia. He nips in front of Tagliafico but shoots wide. 8:23PM 65 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 More fouls. This time Mandzukic is used as a climbing frame by Otamendi. 8:22PM 64 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 ......And he nearly does! Meza fires a shot against Subasic, the ball bounces out to Messi and he shoots at goal but Rakitic gets in the way and it flies out for a corner. It's warming up in Nizhny Novgorod 8:20PM 63 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Messi can't find a way through. He tries to dance through the Croatian defence but is held up by a combination of Lovren and Vrsaljko. Argentina need their man to step up...... 8:19PM 62 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Here is a picture of that fantastic goal by Rebic. Ante Rebic of Croatia scores a belter Credit: ELSA/Getty Images 8:17PM 58 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Mandzukic is yellow carded for a clumsy challenge. The Argentina fans have really ramped up the noise now. "The support is much better than the team," says Wilson. "Not difficult," quips Lawro. 8:15PM 56 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 That really was a fine finish from Rebic. For all the calamity of Caballero, he watched the ball onto his foot perfectly, and volleyed the ball back from where it came. 8:14PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Another Argentina substitution. Pavon comes on for Salvio ten minutes into the second half. Argentina chasing this game now. 8:13PM 55 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 Aguero has been taken off and replaced by Gonzalo Higuain. That change was being made before the clanger from Caballero, and you can't help but feel sorry for Aguero. He's hardly seen the ball. 8:11PM GOAL 52 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 1 What a howler from Caballero. He has inexplicably tried to chip a pass to Mercado, but its been lofted into the air and Rebic fires it back over his head. What a finish. And from a man lucky to still be on the pitch. Argentina 0 - 1 Croatia (Ante Rebic, 53 min) 8:10PM 51 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Another cynical foul. Mercado yellow carded for bringing down Rebic. He swiped across Rebic's knees, just to make sure he wouldn't get through. "That was like Boudica's chariot," says Steve Wilson. "Whoever that was," replies our Lawro. 8:08PM 49 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Peresic fires in a cross towards Rebic, but the danger is snuffed out by Otamendi, who hoofs it away. Messi recieves the ball but is brought down immediately by Brozovic. 8:06PM 47 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The teams are still lively and fouls have been committed on both sides. Messi had only 20 touches in the first half. His midfield need to get a hold on this game if he is to have any chance of scoring. 8:03PM Peep Peep (again) No changes from either side, but you'd imagine that there won't be any Croatian strikers refusing to come on tonight. That Argentina defence needs to buckle up. 8:02PM Some pictures from tonight's game Rebic has been busy tonight and is lucky to still be on the pitch after a nasty tackle on Salvio. Rebic (L) and Salvio battle for the ball Credit: AFP Mario Mandzukic heads wide from within the six yard box. An astonishing miss. Credit: AP And here is that miss from Mandzukic. It looks terrible when you see it like this. 7:54PM Try the Telegraph's new game! We have been hard at work creating this magnificent game for the World Cup - You are the VAR. No big decisions in this game so far, but prove that you have what it takes to be a VAR official by trying it here. For what it's worth, I scored 9/10. test - do not delete 7:49PM Half Time Phwoar...what a game. Absolutely breathless stuff. Shearer says Argentina look average. Lineker says it's hard to remember an Argentina side as poor as this. That seems slightly hyperbolic, but their defence has been poor and they haven't got the ball to Messi and Aguero enough. 7:47PM Chance 45 mins +1 - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lovely ball froom Modric to Rebic. Again, the Argentine defence are cut open. Rebic tries to cut it back but the ball gets stuck under his feet and he hits it high over the bar. 7:46PM 45 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Meza is a lucky boy. He raked his studs into Brozovic while chasing down the ball and VAR had to have a look. No further action. 7:43PM 42 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 The two number 18's, Salvio and Rebic are having a great battle out there. No handbags yet, but Salvio is lucky to win a foul after going down just outside his own box. 7:40PM 39 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Salvio caught by Rebic nastily. Rebic turned his back on the Argentine and sent his studs into his calf. Yellow card for Rebic. Sampaoli was calling for VAR to have a look. 7:38PM 36 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mercado is down, having taken a big hit from Rebic. Everyone is taking the chance to have a rest. What a game we've had so far. Unbelievably, it's still nil-nil. 7:34PM Another Chance - 34 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic with a free header five yards out, but can't steer it into the goal. That would have been his 31st goal for Croatia. Fantastic cross from Vrsaljko, catching the Argentine defence sleeping again. Lawrenson says: "Can you imagine Shearer in the studio?" Shearer would have buried that. 7:32PM Sol Campbell is enjoying this one Argentina v Croatia Love this game skill passion and little bit of afters in tackles! You got to look after yourself in this type of game!— Sol Campbell (@SolManOfficial) June 21, 2018 Hope you're following the Telegraph coverage, Sol. 7:31PM Chance - 30 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 What a miss! Perez shoots wide of an empty net, after Aguero bullies one of the centre backs off the ball and squares it his way. Subasic was caught in between. What a chance. What a waste. 7:28PM 28 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Argentina break again, with Messi on the right. This time he tries to find Aguero in the middle but it flies over his head and lands safely in Subasic's hands. 7:27PM 27 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Good build up from Argentina. Aguero sprints down the left, beating Vrsaljko, and tries to cross the ball to Messi. It is intercepted and headed out for a corner which.....goes straight into the side netting. Meza the culprit. 7:25PM 25 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Croatia are still threatening the Argentina defence. Rebic and Rakitic in particular have been fantastic so far. It has been a quiet start for Lionel Messi. 7:23PM A familiar face in the crowd Diego Maradona is in the house. Before kick off he blew kisses to adoring fans and waved a 'Messi' shirt around his head. Maradona warms up the crowd Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan 7:21PM 21 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Drama.... Caballero plays a hospital pass to Tagliafico inside the area and Mandzukic pounces. However the tackle on Tagliafico is deemed a foul. Argentina look shaky at the back tonight. 7:19PM 19 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano deliberately brings down Modric to stop a Croatia attack, and again players crowd the referee. It is a foul, and nothing more. 7:17PM 17 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perez slides in dangerously on Ivan Rakitic, leaving the Barcelona midfielder on the floor. Players from both sides crowd the referee but no card is given. There is a bit of an edge developing in this game. 7:14PM 13 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Chance for Argentina. Maximiliano Meza finds space in the middle of the box, but the ball is heroicly blocked by Dejan Lovren. 7:12PM 12 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Lionel Messi has his first chance. A ball dinked over the top by Meza is just too hard to control properly, and the chance is squandered. 7:12PM 11 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 A fantastic ball from Rakitic to Vrsaljko has cut open the Argentina defence. Vrsaljko crosses to Rebic who can't steer it goalwards. A lively start here, with Croatia looking brighter. The Argentinian three-man defence does not look assured. 7:09PM 9 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 It's Manzukic down now, his foot being trod on by Tagliafico. He is fine, too. 7:08PM 8 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mandzukic treaeds on Otamendi's foot, and the latter goes down in pain. "At least he's not a big, strong centre-half," jokes Lawrenson, as the big, strong centre-half rolls around. 7:06PM 6 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mascherano blasts the corner away and all the way to Croatian goalkeeper Subasic. Croatia try to break but are caught offside. 7:05PM 5 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Perisic with an early strike across goal. The Argentina defence opened up and Perisic was played down the left hand side. Caballero palms away for a corner. Modric to take. 7:03PM 3 mins - Argentina 0 - Croatia 0 Mark Lawrenson says there is something in the air tonight inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The stadium is rocking and both teams look lively so far. 7:00PM Peep Peep Ravsham Irmatov, from Uzbekistan blows his whistle and Croatia, dressed all in black, kick off, going left to right. 6:55PM Time for a sing song Argentina have the Himno Nacional Argentino, and Croatia the Lijepa naša domovino - which means 'Our beautiful.' But playing them out is Seven Nation Army - a proper tune to hype the crowd up. I'm pretty certain neither the Croatian fans nor the Argentinian fans have changed the lyrics to 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn.' 6:46PM Who are you backing? The Croatian football federation have run a twitter poll on tonight's game. Unsurprisingly, Croatia are favourites. ���������� ⬇️Prediction time! Tonight's #ARGCRO outcome?#BeProud#WorldCup#Vatreni��— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:39PM Cesc Fabregas on Lionel Messi Telegraph columnist wrote a fantastic piece on his friend and former teammate Lionel Messi. Read it here 6:30PM Tick Tock, tick tock On BBC One Tomasz Schafernaker has finished his weather report without swearing, which is good, and the coverage is about to begin. You can follow all the World Cup news @telefootball or tweet me directly @jamieojohnson 6:26PM While you wait The Telegraph has launched a fantastic interactive and you should really give it go. You are the VAR. Follow the link below. test - do not delete 6:23PM Argentina: Meza in, Di Maria out TEAM NEWS // #ARGCRO This promises to be a good one in Nizhny Novgorod... ��������#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/4MuxZz1NEW— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 21, 2018 Jorge Sampaoli has given Independiente forward Maximiliano Meza the left wing berth for tonight's game in place of Angel Di Maria. The 25-year-old has leapfrogged Boca Juniors' Cristian Pavon into the starting XI. The Argentina team is: Caballero; Tagliafico, Otamendi, Mercado; Acuna, Perez, Mascherano, Salvio; Meza, Messi; Aguero 6:08PM Croatia team news Croatia have announced their line up for tonight's game. Subasic, Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, Rebic, Mandzukic. ���������� ⬇️ #CRO starting lineup!#BeProud#FlamingPride#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/E0vsQGFnqf— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 6:02PM The teams have arrived Argentina and Croatia have both arrived at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Teams to come shortly [SELECCIÓN MAYOR] @Argentina ya está en el estadio. ¡¡¡Vamos albiceleste!!! �� #SomosArgentinapic.twitter.com/2tokathO72— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 21, 2018 ���������� �� #CRO arrived to Nizhny Novgorod Stadium!#BeProud#ARGCRO#WorldCup#Vatreni�� pic.twitter.com/GdY1sIX9Pr— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 21, 2018 5:59PM It's all over at the Ekaterinburg Arena France have beaten Peru 1-0 and have reached the last 16 of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe has become their youngest ever scorer at a World Cup, poking home from a couple of yards out in the 34th minute. Peru, and their tearful captain Paolo Guerrero, are out. Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the only goal of the game Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge 5:51PM Lawro watch Mark Lawrenson is back in the BBC commentary box tonight, alongside Steve Wilson. The former Liverpool defender has been blasted on social media for his grumpy demeanour during the Belgium vs Panama game, as well as for his poor jokes and his apparently shallow insight. This week, Alan Tyers came to his defence, in a piece which you can read here. If tonight, all eyes are on Messi, all ears will be on Lawrenson. 5:39PM Good afternoon, football fans Hola, zdravo, hello. Welcome to Argentina vs Croatia - the 23rd game of the 2018 World Cup. This match should be a real cracker, with both teams vying for the top spot in group D ahead of Nigeria and Iceland. Tonight, at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium we should see lots of expansive, expressive football and hopefully some goals. Argentina's Angel Di Maria looks likely to drop to the bench. In his place will be 22-year-old Cristian Pavon, the Boca Juniors forward who once expressed his love for arch rivals River Plate. Joining him in attack will be Sergio Aguero and their captain, Lionel Messi. There has been a huge amount of attention on the Barcelona forward since the Iceland game, where he missed penalty and failed to score in 11 shots. Looking ahead to tonight, the stats are on Messi’s side: he has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Croatia, including his first ever goal for Argentina back in March 2006. Yesterday in the Croatian press conference, midfielder Ivan Rakitic said: “Tomorrow will be a beautiful day. Croatia needs a perfect performance against Argentina.” In their last match against Nigeria, they won at a canter, and posed a real threat in the middle of the park. A spine of Subasic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric and Mandzukic is pretty fearsome, and the Argentines will not be treating them lightly. One man they won’t need to worry about is Nikola Kalinic. The striker warmed up against Nigeria, but then told coach Zlatko Dalic he had a back issue and refused to come on. He was later sent home. As omens go, it’s not brilliant for Croatia: they have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, and haven’t won back-to-back World Cup games since the 1998 tournament. Stay tuned for the team news as we get it, and in the meantime, why not join Alistair Tweedale for the last 15 minutes of France vs Peru.