The most populated black nation on Earth, Nigeria will be playing Croatia at 8pm.
Croatia go top of Group D ahead of their game against Argentina on Thursday. That was a routine win and possibly the easiest nights work for Subasic in goal. An own goal from Etebo and a penalty from Modric did the damage but Nigeria have some serious work to do after such a flat performance on the world’s biggest stage.
FULL-TIME Croatia run out 2-0 winners in a straightforward victory. Nigeria weren’t at the races at all during this game and will have to improve if they want to progress from this tough group.
90+2 Mins: HUGE CHANCE!!!! Nigeria fall asleep at the back and Kovacic bursts into the box and he has options. The sensible route was Perisic for a simple tap in but he tries to make a name for himself and Uzoho dives to his left to deny him. Why on earth didn’t he pass? It remains 2-0.
90 Mins: Four minutes of stoppage time given in Kaliningrad. This has been a routine win for Croatia but it is certainly a game to forget for the neutrals and Super Eagles fans.
89 Mins: Yellow card! Brozovic has barely had a kick tonight but he makes enough contact with an opposition player and gets a yellow card.
Nigeria Substitution: Skipper Mikel has had a night to forget and he sits down on the bench in disappointment as Simy runs past him to try and make a difference with just two minutes to go.
Croatia Substitution: J uventus forward Mandžukić is clapped off the field as he gets brought off with just minutes to go. Pjaca is his replacement but he will not have long to make an impact.
85 Mins: Nigeria’s fans look disappointed and confused in the stands as their team continue to struggle. They have barely made an impact and this will be a huge lesson for them tonight.
84 Mins: We have a short break in play as Perisic goes down after a clumsy challenge.
82 Mins: Croatia continue to ease their way to victory but there is still room for improvement from Dalic’s men going into their games against Argentina and Iceland.
80 Mins: Just ten minutes to go and it has not been an amazing advert for World Cup football in Group D today. Many were hoping these two would kick on after the 1-1 draw between Argentina and Iceland but Croatia have just done enough.
Croatia Substitution: Rebic has worked extremely hard this evening and he is now given a rest as Kovačić steps onto the field of play.
77 Mins: Iheanacho makes a fast start as he glides into the box but he shoots wide after scooping the effort rather than putting power behind his drive.
76 Mins: Ighalo has endured a quiet night and Iheanacho will now be given the task of leading the line.
73 Mins: Croatia will end the evening on top of Group D unless Nigeria can pull off a superb fightback.
71 Mins: GOAAALLLL CROATIA! It is now 2-0 and Modric is the man of the moment. The captain takes responsibility for the penalty and he steps up before sendig Uzoho the wrong way!
69 Mins: PENALTY CROATIA! What on earth was William Troost-Ekong thinking? He wrestles Mandzukic to the ground while defending a corner the referee doesn’t hesitate to give the decision a penalty for Croatia and a yellow card for the Nigerian. Modric will take….
66 Mins: Nigeria’s fans plead for a penalty as Moses goes down but the referee waves them away. That’s the fourth or fifth time that the Chelsea man has gone down and it is not nice to see him trying to buy free-kicks and penalties.
63 Mins: Croatia win a corner and Mandzukic latches onto the pass but his header never troubles Uzoho in the Nigeria goal.
Nigeria Substitution: Arsenal man Iwobi has endured a poor afternoon and Musa is now given a chance from the bench.
Croatia Substitution: Kramarić enjoyed a lively first half but he has barely had a touch in the first 15 minutes of the second. As a result he is hauled off and on comes Brozović.
59 Mins: CHANCE – Rohr’s men finally force a save out of Subasic but Ighalo’s header is not strong enough to cause any problems.
58 Mins: Nigeria have yet to raise the tempo and changes could be on the cards before this contest slips away from them.
55 Mins: MASSIVE CHANCE! Rakitic plays a fantastic ball out to Perisic who delivers a cross in behind the Nigeria defence, Rebic times his run perfectly but can only volley narrowly over the bar from six yards out, he should have done better.
52 Mins: Some good work from Moses sees Croatia panic slightly at the back but any chance of a goal is ruined as Ighalo bundles into the back of his marker.
51 Mins: Croatia finally build their first attack of the second half but Rakitic spoilts it by blasting his shot into the stands from 35 yards.
50 Mins: Etebo picks out Moses on the right wing before he dances his way into the box but he snatches at his shot and claims it should be a corner. The officials are having none of it and a goal kick is awarded.
49 Mins: The Super Eagles win three corners in a row but Croatia eventually clear their lines at the third attempt. That’s a small improvement from Rohr’s outfit and let’s see if they can build on that.
48 Mins: Quite simply Nigeria need to do more in the second half after a lacklustre display in the first 45 minutes. Their fans have continued to back them in the stands but they need something to smile about!
STAT: Nigeria’s last two goals conceded at a World Cup have both been own goals. Etebo’s this evening follows Joseph Yobo’s from the 2014 defeat to France.
46 Mins: The second half is underway.
Dalic’s men will be looking for a second and they could well find it unless Nigeria raise their game. The African giants have just gone through the motions so far and they need to give Ighalo some support before they lose this evening.
An own goal from Etebo is the difference at the interval and Croatia definitely deserved to be in front. Modric has been superb so far as he pulls the strings, while Rakitic, Kramaric and Mandzukic have also looked sharp
HALF TIME: The game sprung into life during the last 15 minutes of the first half. Croatia look good value for their lead so far.
45+1 Mins: Two minutes of stoppage time…
45 Mins: CHANCE – Iwobi seems to have read this text commentary as he latches onto a clearance and drills a shot towards goal but Lovren throws himself in the way to make sure the scoreline remains 1-0.
42 Mins: WIDE! A long spell of Croatian posession ends with Mandzukic laying off Vrsaljko who smashes the ball way wide of the goal.
39 Mins: CHANCE – Croatia produce another sensational team move and Kramaric is very unlucky to not grab a second for his team. Barcelona’s Rakitic picked him out but the striker could only watch his header loop over the bar.
37 Mins: Nigeria are struggling to get back into the game and the likes of Iwobi and Mikel have barely had a kick so far. Still early days but they need to improve before they fall two-nil down.
33 Mins: Nigeria nearly make an immediate reponse but Ighalo’s left-footed effort is blocked on the edge of the box. It remains 1-0 to Croatia and they will be confident of holding onto this until the interval.
32 Mins: GOAL Croatia! Mandzukic gets on the end of a Luka Modric corner with a diving header which is heading wide of the post it takes a deflection of of Etebo into the back of the net. Own Goal 1-0 Croatia.
31 Mins: Rakitic becomes the first man into the book after he chopped down Moses while he was trying to break away.
29 Mins: Whistling can be heard around the Kaliningrad Stadium and it appears that some of the neutrals have lost their patience with the lack of chances.
27 Mins: Croatia fans rise to their feet as Rebic latches onto a cross inside the box but the referee punishes him for a push in the back.
25 Mins: We are now over halfway through the first half and neither team have made too many inroads. Croatia have just about edged it due to their superior possession but Nigeria are certainly making life hard for them when they do not have the ball.
23 Mins: Balogun is forced off the field to get some running repairs after he picks up a facial injury following a collision with Vida.
22 Mins: After a number of attempted clearances, Nigeria eventually latch onto a loose pass from Croatia but Etebo volleys wide of the target.
21 Mins: Former Watford man Ighalo has made a bright start to proceedings and he wins Nigeria a corner after his shot was blocked at the near post.
19 Mins: Kramaric wins a free kick but Modric is unable to pick out Perisic at the far post and Uzoho comes out to collect before rolling the ball out for a team-mate.
17 Mins: Croatia win another corner but for the second time in a row Modric fails to produce a decent delivery.
15 Mins: Kramaric finds a yard of space and decides to try and test Uzoho from 20 yards out but he snatches his drive and it sails past the far post.
13 Mins: CHANCE – Croatia carve open the Nigeria backline but Perisic cannot find the back of the net. Modric started the move on the left wing before Mandzukic teed up the Inter man but he could only blaze his shot over the bar.
12 Mins: Nigeria are starting to settle into this tie and they nearly punish a rare mistake from Modric. Mikel and the Croatia star tussle for possession near the corner flag and the former wins the fight but his cross is straight into the hands of Subasic.
9 Mins: Real Madrid maestro Modric decides to take the corner short and his right-footed cross is cleared at the near post.
8 Mins: Croatia win a corner after Modric’s long ball is knocked behind by Shehu.
6 Mins: Chelsea man Moses wins a free kick after Rebic barges into him from behind. The Nigeria star will have his work cut out tonight but he has proven his ability and superior fitness at Stamford Bridge in the last few years.
4 Mins: Croatia have now started to take control of the game and both Rakitic and Modric are the brains behind their early moves.
10 Mins to KO: The good news for Nigeria is that Balogun has recovered from a recent injury worry after missing training on Friday.
Dalic has fielded an attacking lineup tonight, with Rakitic and Modric set to sit deeper and that will allow Rebic, Kramaric, Perisic and Mandzukic to flourish further down the field.
We could also be in for a spicy encounter, with the last four World Cup games involving Croatia having produced five red cards.
If Croatia are to grab three points tonight they will need to ignore the history books. They have lost their opening group game in each of their last three World Cups!
Nigeria will be led by Gernot Rohr at this summer’s tournament but he may need some luck along the way after the Super Eagles were drawn in a tough group. Rohr’s men have only won one of their last five and they were beaten by Czech Republic back on June 6.
Croatia are considered darkhorses by some ahead of their first game at the 2018 World Cup. Zlatko Dalic’s troops have won two of their last five friendlies and they were last in action on June 8 when they beat Senegal 2-1. Several members of their squad have impressed around Europe this season and they will be confident of getting off to a good start.
30 Mins to KO: Hello and welcome to our live text commentary of the Group D match between Croatia and Nigeria in Kaliningrad in Russia. This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides and they head into the game knowing that Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland earlier this afternoon
Croatia line up as strong as ever with one of the best midfield pairings you are likely to see at this tournament with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.
Confirmed Croatia XI: Danijel Subasic, Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric (c), Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic, Mario Mandzukic.
Croatia Subs: Lovre Kalinic, Mateo Kovacic, Duje Caleta-Car, Nikola Kalinic, Tin Jedvaj, Marcelo Brozovic, Milan Badelj, Josip Pivaric, Vedran Corluka, Marko Pjaca, Filip Bradaric, Dominik Livakovic.
Nigeria have left a lot of talent on the bench for this game against Croatia, opting for former Watford striker Odion Ighalo ahead of Leicester strikers Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho.
Confirmed Nigeria XI: Francis Uzoho, Abdullahi Shehu, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Brian Idowu, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Victor Moses, John Obi Mikel (c), Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo.
Nigeria Subs: Joel Obi, Chidozie Awaziem, John Ogu, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Daniel Akpeyi, Simy, Tyronne Ebuehi, Elderson Echiéjilé, Kenneth Omeruo, Ahmed Musa, Ogenyi Onazi.
Croatia and Nigeria will close Saturday’s fixtures with the second Group D game at the Kaliningrad Stadium.