Argentina came into their second group-stage game against Croatia today needing to bounce back from a frustrating, leaden 1-1 draw with Iceland. Instead, they got run off the pitch by a determined Croatia side, who spanked them 3-0 thanks to two horrifying defensive errors and one moment of world-class precision from Luka Modrić. Argentina now face the very real possibility of a first-round exit, and they need several games to break their way in order to limp out of Group D. Whether or not that happens, let us not forget: this Argentina side is full of frauds, they’ve all let Lionel Messi down, and they deserve to go home.
The first half was a cagey affair, where Croatia and Argentina traded boring possessions and settled into a methodical rhythm of passing it sideways in the attacking third then losing it immediately or missing whatever paltry shot they produced. Things were physical throughout, as both defenses refused to give an inch to their opponent’s attackers. And then, Willy Caballero happened. Wow, who could have guessed that a 36-year-old who’s been a backup at the club level for four years and only broke through for his national side in 2018 could have been prone to a game-breaking error?
After that, the floodgates opened. Argentina’s lack of defensive stability was matched only by the ineffectiveness of its non-Messi midfielders, whose utter washedness (looking at you, Javier Mascherano) forced their only good player to drop deeper and deeper to pick up the ball. Sergio Agüero had his moments, but never even seriously troubled keeper Danijel Subašić. There was this idea before the World Cup that Messi alone made Argentina a World Cup contender, because he dragged his team to the final in Brazil and because the team’s lineup had experienced little turnover in the intervening four years. The problem is, those dudes who got a free ride to the final in 2014 are all older and slower, and many of them (Mascherano, Lucas Biglia, Enzo Pérez) have aged out of relevance. Their defense is rotten to its core, and Luka Modrić showed that with his all-world goal in the 80th minute.
Look at these frauds standing around as Ivan Rakitić put the finishing touches on the game with a suitably embarrassing goal.
Argentina now must rely on Iceland—fucking Iceland, a nation of 300,000 people—to stumble against Nigeria so they don’t get dispatched early and put in the garbage can, where they belong.