Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic (C) and Mario Mandzukic (R) will be rested for Croatia's game against Iceland. In this picture, Rakitic of Croatia celebrates with teammats Mateo Kovacic and Mario Mandzukic of Croatia after scoring his team's third goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 21, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Argentina are already facing an uphill task to make it out of the group stages at the ongoing 2018 World Cup in Russia after a disappointing start to their campaign and it has now been made even harder after the Croatia coach’s recent revelation.

Lionel Messi-led Argentina drew their opening game against Iceland and then suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Croatia in their second outing. It was a 3-0 loss that reverberated across the globe with Argentine TV presenters even holding a minute’s silence to commemorate the downfall of their team.

The loss did not only come close to ending their stay at the World Cup but also brought a lot of discord within the team. In the aftermath of the game, the coach, Jorge Sampaoli, first blamed the players while they blamed the coach’s tactics.

Reports suggested the players have requested the country’s football association to sack the coach ahead of their final group game against Nigeria. It is unlikely to happen, but Sampaoli’s future at the helm remains uncertain for when their campaign comes to an end.

Argentina’s World Cup fate was in the hands of Nigeria as they took on Iceland on Friday – if the latter had won the Albiceleste would have been on a flight home after their final game Tuesday. However, Super Eagles striker ensured they live to fight another day by scoring a brace against Iceland.

Sampaoli’s team now have to beat Nigeria in their final group game and hope Iceland do not better their result when they take on Croatia. Argentina will have to regroup after the disappointment against Croatia and try and beat the Super Eagles, who will be in a confident mood after their victory on Friday.

But Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic rubbed salt into Argentina’s bruised ego’s after revealing he will rest a number of his top stars for their final group game against Iceland. They have already booked their place in the round of 16 and he is not willing to risk some of his top stars ahead of the knockout rounds.

The likes of Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic, Sime Vrsaljko and Ante Rebic are all carrying yellow cards and another caution in the final group game will see them banned for the round of 16 clash. Dalic wants to finish as group leaders, but his bigger concern remains over the availability of his top stars, who were key in their demolition of Argentina on Thursday.

"There will be changes in the eleven," Dalic said ahead of their game against Iceland on Tuesday, as quoted on Spanish publication Marca.

"Those who have yellow cards (Rakitic, Rebic, Mandzukic and Vrsaljko) will not play. I would like to be the first in the group, but we have to take care of ourselves,” the Croatia coach added.