Croatia's midfield absolutely dominated Argentina in the Argentine's 3-0 loss on Thursday. Could we be seeing the end of an era for Lionel Messi and Argentina?
Argentina was effectively dominated by Croatia on Thursday, with the Argentines shipping three goals in outrageous fashion and all but ending their chances of advancing out of Group D. Croatia's midfield bossed Argentina for much of the game and showed the true disparity between the two team's talent and the willingness of the Argentine players to fight after going down a goal thanks to a silly goalkeeping error by Willy Caballero. We talk about where Argentina stands after the loss, if this could be the end of an era in Argentine soccer and Jorge Sampaoli's comments after the game.
Listen to the full episode below, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes to hear each and every episode throughout the 2018 World Cup.
Here's a selection of episode eight, which can be listened to in its entirety in the podcast console above:
GRANT WAHL: You had a long work day, man! You wrote a great story after a memorable game. You know that I am a big Argentina fan. It's my adopted country. You've spent time there and we're both just really depressed about Argentina and where it is right now.
BRIAN STRAUS: Yeah's it's not in a good place. And I don't begrudge Croatia at all. I actually, in my bracket I actually have them going further than Argentina. I thought they'd win the group and go to the quarterfinals. I really enjoy their midfield. I think Luka Modric is still somehow underrated around the world and he does everything. He is an influencer and a playmaker and he's a guy who can shape a game. It was just totally deserved and Argentina was just toothless and impudent and without ideas, without spirit. And for the coach, for their own coach, to say things like "we have failed to gel. We folded after the first goal. Our team clouds Messi's brilliance." I mean, just total capitulation from Sampaoli down to Messi, whose of course body language kind of went viral around the world.
[Messi was] the first player off the field when the whistle blew. He did not—at least that I saw—he did not acknowledge anyone, congratulate anyone, shake hands with anyone. Just was gone. Puff of smoke, Keyser Soze style. The stadium is 80% Argentine. You're hearing the songs. They hang their banners of their clubs and their barrios and their neighborhoods and their cities and their players they love. I mean all the color, the stadium was even blue and white. The stadium matched Argentina and it was just all set up for them to get everything back on track and they just faceplanted. No other word to describe it. And it was eerie to be there. I felt like I was at the end of something. I felt like I was witnessing ... yes there's another game and obviously mathematically they still have a shot but like come on. I felt like I was there to see sort of the final bow of maybe Messi's World Cup career and it was eerie. It was weird.
GW: Yeah, I mean the ability to recognize something historic that's happening in front of your eyes, I think there's value in that. And I do wonder, this really might be the final chapter of an era. And you know, maybe Argentina will turn it around but I just don't feel it. This is a bad team.
BS: That's the thing. We're saying this and maybe they win 4-0 next week.
GW: Maybe, but maybe not. And I do want to talk about Croatia because I feel like they not only deserved it, everything came together here. They were very good in the first game against Nigeria, a 2-0 win. Took care of business. But in this game tonight, the midfield superiority was so evident, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic. You expected their midfield to be better and they were. And Argentina's midfield is so freaking bad it is mystifying that this is the best that their nation can put out there.
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