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On the brink, Argentina handed a final shot at World Cup salvation

26 June 2018

The 0-3 reverse to Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday was the heaviest World Cup group stage defeat suffered by Argentina since they were annihilated 6-1 by then Czechoslovakia in Helsinborg (Sweden) 60 years ago.

But Nigeria can qualify with a draw or win against Argentina if Iceland lose or draw against Croatia, and coach Gernot Rohr was ruthless when asked about ending Lionel Messi's World Cup campaign, which could potentially be his last.

While Volgograd, venue of Friday's match with Iceland, was just what the doctor prescribed for Nigeria, St. Petersburg will pose a different condition as it is predicted to be far colder than anything the Super Eagles have encountered in the last six months. We are here to make a result, we are professionals. And he will hope his showing against the Vikings help him tie down a starting spot on Tuesday.

If not for their next opponents Nigeria, winning their match against Iceland, Argentina would've been eliminated from this World Cup.

The two-time winners have started the tournament poorly and now sit bottom of their group, having picked up just a single point from their opening two games.

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However, against the run of play in the 23rd minute, Iceland pushed forward through Birkir Bjarnason and Aron Gunnarsson. Argentina were dominating possession in the early stages but could not really break down the compact Iceland defence.

A win will guarantee Argentina a roud of 16 place while Nigeria only need a draw to go through.

In each of the previous 4, World Cups Nigeria has been drawn alongside Argentina.

The Barcelona and former Liverpool midfielder wanted a change at the helm as part of a "pact for life" before the final group game with Nigeria in St Petersburg.

A defeat means that the world's acclaimed best player, Lionel Messi, will not win the one trophy remaining to complete his crown-laden chest.

Also defender Brian Idowu noted that the Eagles will focus on their game, rather crisis in the Argentina team.

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A Nigerian win over debutant Iceland has offered the South American giant a lifeline, and a comfortable win over the African side in its last group game will ensure its progress to the knockout stage. "The Eagles should see it as their final match at the World Cup because they need it more than the Iceland game".

It's been reported by Simon Mullock of the Daily Mirror that Sergio Aguero will not start against Nigeria as he was one of several players who sought to have the manager sacked after the Croatia clash.

The model has taken Nigeria's strong showing in the 2018 World Cup into account. Perhaps a draw can be enough for us but it's not sure. With his blistering pace and clinical finishing, I'd like to see Musa really take the game to the Argentines.

It's a pretty dire situation to be in and one that no one expected from Argentina heading into the World Cup.

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In the same group Tunisia will take on Panama in their quest to at least win for pride, before bowing out of the tournament. If it's a draw then it will be decided by fair play as the teams are now level on goal difference and goals scored.

On the brink, Argentina handed a final shot at World Cup salvation