Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has taken full responsibility for Argentina’s shortcomings in their 3-0 defeat to Croatia on Thursday evening, a result which has left his side’s World Cup future hanging in the balance.
Three second half goals from Ante Rebić, Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić decided the tie, which makes the Croats the first side to qualify for the round of 16 from Group D.
Croatia were the superior side throughout and were worthy of the victory, but the manner in which Argentina were defeated was particularly surprising. After the match, Sampaoli lamented his own tactical choices.
“I am the only one responsible for making the decisions,” Sampaoli told reporters, as per ESPN.
“Today, the loss is my responsibility. I went in with a lot of hope and I am feeling a lot of pain with the defeat. For sure I didn’t read the match as I should have.”
A key failure throughout for Argentina was there inability to combine effectively in the final third, and they left the Croatian defence largely untested throughout the 90 minutes.
Once the first goal was scored, courtesy of a dreadful error from Willy Caballero, Sampaoli admitted that it was all but over for his side.
“We were not able to find combinations that would have given us a chance,” Sampaoli added.
“The plan for this game I thought [we] would exercise pressure over our rival over Croatia but after the first goal we suffered emotionally and we weren’t able to change the story.
“Everything that happened to this team in terms of the lack of performance of this team has to do with the leader. And I take responsibility for that if the players were not able to adapt to the gameplan.
“I take responsibility for not reading the match properly. Our plan didn’t prosper.”