The Group D match pits Croatia against Nigeria leaving them Argentina and Iceland in the group to beat later in the week.
Twenty years ago an independent nation of Croatians finished third in their first World Cup (cruelly between by Lilian Thuram’s brace for France in the semi-finals) but since then have only won two matches in nine group stage attempts. With a genuinely impressive front line this could be the year of change thanks to the likes of Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan) and Mario Mandzukic (Juventus).
Nigeria, in its sixth attempt, is looking to go beyond round 16, which is as far as it’s ever got. With Chelsea’s Victor Moses and sharp shooter Kelechi Iheanacho onboard, that may well happen this year.
Croatia vs. Nigeria
Group D, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
Star-studded Croatia comes off a disappointing showing in 2014 in Brazil, losing two matches in a tough group that included the host nation and Mexico. This year, it’s in the entertaining Group D with Argentina, Iceland and the Super Eagles, who are looking to finally make a tournament run after decades of promise. A win and a draw four years ago was enough for Nigeria to make the knockout stage before losing to France. This is the first meeting between the two sides.
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Croatia face Nigeria at Kaliningrad Stadium on Saturday, June 16. Here’s all the info you need to watch.
Group D action gets underway at the World Cup on Saturday. In the final game of the day, Croatia face Nigeria. Croatia finished second in their qualifying group but easily eliminated Greece in a two-leg playoff to punch their ticket to Russia. Nigeria finished first in their group, picking up 13 points in six games despite being forced to forfeit a game for playing an ineligible player.
This will be the last chance for this generation of Croatian players. Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic are some of the best players in their domestic leagues but will likely be playing in their final World Cup. Croatia will try to control possession in midfield with Modric and Rakitic dominating possession. Going forward, Croatia will try playing the ball directly to Mandzukic in the middle. However, they also have the option of playing the ball wide to Perisic on the wing. In their opening game, Croatia will look to answer questions about their inexperienced defense.
Nigeria have been praised for having the best kits in the tournament. However, the Super Eagles World Cup run is more memorable than their uniforms. Nigeria will rely heavily on 21-year-old Leicester teammates Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho. Ndidi was a workhouse in midfield for Leicester, leading the Premier League with 138 tackles. Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel will start in the midfield for Nigeria and focus on keeping the ball away from Modric. Iheanacho will lead the line for the Super Eagles. The Leicester striker scored eight goals in all competitions this season.
The World Cup match between Croatia and Nigeria will be broadcast live on FS1. Live streaming is available on Fox Sports Go, which you can access with your cable or satellite subscription, either online or through their app.
Date: Saturday, June 16
Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: Kaliningrad, Russia
Stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium
TV info: FS1
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go | Watch live on Fubo.TV.