First off, Argentina changed coaches in 2017, right before the World Cup. Good timing Argentina. Way to go. Brilliant. Coach Edgardo Bauza was at the helm, then last minute they handed it over to the new guy, Jorge Sampaoli, with full-arm tattoos who paces the sidelines like a caged tiger.
Secondly, Croatia is a very good team. They're like the Brazil of Slovakian nations, with a little touch of Barcelona thrown in. They're a tough team and they affectively gave Argentina, the two-time World Cup champs, a resounding 3-0 defeat today.
In part, the following book excerpt explains what went wrong with Argentina today, and in general.
Book Excerpt from The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup
If having a temper is a strategy, they use it effectively at times, while other times it turns into their own worst enemy. If they get down a goal, and things aren’t going their way, it usually takes one guy—say, Mascherano—to throw a temper tantrum,* berating the referee (sometimes multiple referees), and the rest will follow.
Argentina will probably go with a 4-4-2 (however, they’ve previously used different variations). Though, from time to time, strategy is thrown out the window, and they rely, instead, on good old-fashioned soccer know-how—an elegant “tactic” they were accused of in 2010 under the guidance of Maradona.
Whether no strategy is a strategy or whether any such accusation is true, over time, Argentina has effectively gained two World Cups and a myriad of South American championships. As good as they are, with talent from wing to wing, this team’s approach, with a sound footing in soccer know-how, should be no different.
...Argentina brings a strong defense with aggressive tacklers and a pressing, relentless attack geared around Messi.
Though, as past performances have illustrated, constantly putting the ball at Messi’s feet, with the idea of carrying a nation, could be holding his talent back, keeping his team at bay. When he’s constantly getting the ball, with expectations of something magical looming in the air, it might just be a detriment to the team’s fluidity.
The best Argentinean attack could be to get the rest of the team to be the stars, allowing them the majority of possession (i.e., as many touches as possible). As with Barcelona, wherein all players are constantly touching the ball and Messi is benefitting from their masterful possession interplay, it might be in Argentina’s best interest to copy this approach (the best they can). After all, when a championship is on the line, a free-flowing, goal-hungry Argentina is a little different from a highly structured Barcelona.
*Which varies in severity, depending, of course, on the circumstances.
The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup
“Ivan Perisic, who joined Manchester United in 2017, played his first game with Croatia in 2011.”
In 2017, Ivan Perisic had joined Manchester United in many respects, including conversations, contract negotiations, visits between his party and theirs, and he was all but wearing a uniform, though never played in a game. Many sources were leading to this assumption that he was all but a member of Manchester United. Wikipedia, likely following multiple sources, had outright put that Perisic was with Manchester United in 2017. The manuscript of this book, The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup, had been complete by the time Perisic’s decision with Manchester United had come to light.
It is with great pleasure to point out this clarification as many changes with players and teams occur frequently, including transfers and trades, and the book took every step to ensure accuracy and the highest quality. And this was delivered. Thank you and enjoy the World Cup!