Dalic’s side weren’t the most convincing of winners despite their 2-0 margin against Nigeria, relying on a penalty and an own goal – and the coach has faced further difficulties off the pitch this week in the shape of striker Nikola Kalinic, who has been sent home from the World Cup. Kalinic refused to come on off the bench Croatia’s Group D clash, as he had previously against Brazil in a warm-up friendly, citing a back issue; no other player has been allowed to be called up to the squad in his place.
Sampaoli’s team thought they were headed for victory over minnows Iceland when Maximiliano Meza was fouled for a penalty in the 64th minute with the scores locked. Yet captain Lionel Messi saw his tame effort saved by Hannes Halldorsson and La Albiceleste couldn’t find a way through for the rest of the game, leaving Argentina winless in their opening game of a World Cup for the first time since Italy 1990 when they were shocked by Cameroon. Can they offer a roaring riposte today in Nizhny Novgorod?
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