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16th Jun 2018

The tension was real between Roy Keane and Slaven Bilic in the ITV studio

The punditry made for better viewing than the football itself

Darragh Murphy

Don’t be surprised if either Roy Keane or Slaven Bilic fails to make it back to the ITV studios.

That’s because many supporters are anticipating a fight to the death between two of football’s legitimate hard men after some awkward exchanges during the coverage of Croatia’s 2-0 victory over Nigeria on Saturday night.

While you wouldn’t like to meet either man down a dark alley, Bilic unsurprisingly proved to be the more positive analyst as he explained why he felt like his beloved Croatia had it in them to make it to the knockout stages of the World Cup following their group opener.

“With the greatest respect to Iceland, if we get a point against Argentina then with a win against Iceland, we are top of the group,” Bilic said.

“Of course I am positive. I’ve played for good clubs, who were always positive.”

But Bilic’s optimism didn’t sit very well with Keane, who couldn’t bite his tongue and the Irishman provided a less hopeful expectation of the coming weeks.

“It’s a good attitude to have,” Keane responded sarcastically.

“There are some tough games ahead for them. I know it rolls off the tongue to say: ‘Just get a draw against Argentina and beat Iceland.’

“If the game was as simple as that, it’d be great. But, no, there are a tough few weeks coming up for Croatia and I think Argentina will beat them.”

Bilic failed to see the funny side when Keane joked that he couldn’t possibly comment on how players react to doubt over whether or not they’d be selected as he was a mainstay for his club and country.

The former Manchester United midfielder then suggested that Bilic and Lee Dixon would be better served answering that question.

And it’s very safe to say that Keane didn’t enjoy how tactile Bilic was in his animated analysis throughout.

We hope that Bilic didn’t take any of Keane’s comments or frowns to heart because, to be fair, that’s how he treats most people in his company.

Or at least that’s what we see on television. We’re sure he’s lovely in person…