Croatia took the hammer to Lionel Messi and Co., inflicting the Albiceleste’s worst first-round group stage defeat since 1958

Lionel Messi hoped to lead Argentina to a memorable World Cup. But while Argentina’s game against Croatia may have been unforgettable, receiving the worst beating the nation has taken in a first-round group-stage match in 60 years was not what they had in mind.

Croatia put in a strong performance, breaking through after both sides squandered first-half chances, and came away with a convincing 3-0 victory over the Albiceleste in the second game of Group D play on Thursday.

It was an ugly performance all around for Argentina, as they struggled to get their stars, Messi and Sergio Aguero into the proceedings .

Argentina did have an opportunity to get off on the right foot a half hour in, but Enzo Perez missed a clear-cut chance on a near-open goal with the game still scoreless.

Then in the second half, Ante Rebic took advantage of a horrible mistake by Argentina keeper Willy Caballero to open the scoring for Croatia. A Luke Modric rocket from distance doubled their advantage.

Ivan Rakitic’s goal to close out the scoring added insult to injury, as Argentina had not suffered a defeat so heavy in the group stage of a World Cup since the 1958 edition, when they were hammered 6-1 by Czechoslovakia. 

​Meanwhile, Argentina have not won their last four World Cup matches – the first time in their history that has occurred .

Aside from the loss to Croatia and an opening-game draw against Iceland, Argentina lost in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in extra time. In addition, though they did get past the Netherlands in the semi-final of the tournament in Brazil, it came through a shootout after a scoreless 120 minutes.

The heavy defeat puts Argentina in a difficult spot when it comes to qualifying for the knockout stages, though advancement is still possible.

Argentina will require a win against Nigeria, combined with results elsewhere, if they have any hope of salvaging their 2018 World Cup dream.

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