Argentina played one of the worst games in the recent history as Croatia go to the knock-out stages with a hammering 3-0 win at the Nizhny Novgorod Arena on Thursday. The ageing Argentina squad never actually woke up from their deep slumber as the likes of Rebic, Modric and Rakitic hammered away three goals into the back of the Argentine net.
A curiously lifeless and uninspired Argentine display was capped off by Caballero's mistake when he somehow managed to chip the ball just a few yards to Croatia's Rebic, following a Gabriel Mercado backpass.
The Group D defeat means Argentina have just one point from two games, which indicates that they will probably have to beat Nigeria in their last game and hope other results to go in their way to avoid elimination. The result left Argentinian fans in tears inside the Nizhny Novgorod stadium, while Diego Maradona watched from the stands in utter disbelief.
The 3-0 humiliation leaves the Argentinians facing an ignominious repeat of their 2002 campaign when they also went out at the group stage after being tipped as possible World Cup winners.
But with Nigeria beating Iceland 2-0, suddenly there is hope that maybe it's not all over for Messi and Co. Maybe, things will happen in the most uncommon of ways and through a meeting of fate and hard work, maybe Argentina will live to see another stage of the tournament.
Croatia have gone to the knock-out stages with 6 points. The next spot is up for taking.
Now, here are the chances of Argentina:
-- If Argentina beats Nigeria and Croatia either draws with or beats Iceland in Group D's final round of fixtures.
-- If Argentina beat Nigeria and Iceland defeat Croatia but have a poorer goal difference than Argentina (If the goal difference is the same, then goals scored will be considered, and then the number of cards etc)
If either of these scenarios take place, Argentina will advance.
Goal difference would play a vital role, and if goal difference is the same, then it will go to yellow cards, of which Argentina has more than a few.
If none of the above happens, Argentina will be eliminated.
The calculation is complicated and Argentina's chances look bleak, given the form of Iceland in recent times. The tiny nation of 334,000 people have also beaten Croatia on their way to the World Cup Final stage but the Argentine fans should have their fingers crossed and pray for the results to go their way if they want to see Messi playing in the latter stages of Fifa World Cup 2018.