FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Surprisingly enough Argentina barely got into the World Cup, mostly thanks to Lionel Messi. The qualifying for Argentina started with a shocking defeat against Ecuador (2:0), however, they managed to pull through and finished at the 3rd spot with an overall record of 7-7-4, with 19 goals scored and 16 conceived. If they failed to qualify it would be for the first time since 1970, luckily this is not the case and we will be able to see Messi and his teammates once more in this year’s World Cup. The main problem in Argentina squad is their imbalance. Of course, they do have a very strong offensive line in Lionel Messi, Di Maria, and Aguero, but their defence is a weak point, as seen in 16 conceded goals in qualifiers. If Bolivia can win 2:0 against Argentina, they could face some problems against world’s best teams. Keeping that in mind, they will struggle against teams with a strong offence.
Star player: Lionel Messi; we saw what happens when Messi isn’t playing for Argentina when Spain destroyed Argentina in a 6:1 win.
Prediction: Argentinian defence will be a huge burden and if the ball does not get to their attacking line there is not a lot Messi and Aguero can do. With that in mind, they most likely won’t get too far this year.
We all know and love this small country and will always be remembered for their successful performances in 2016 Euro tournament, where they were unbeaten until losing to France in Quarter-Finals. Looking at their qualifying run, Iceland came on top of their qualifying group, despite Croatia being a strong favourite to do so. With an overall record of 7-1-2, they can be happy with the result. Being the smallest nation to qualify, it’s a huge success. Of course they do not have the team to win the tournament, neither do I believe they will manage to repeat their success from 2 years ago, nonetheless, with their strong morale and unbreakable will, they can be a dangerous team to those who underestimate them.
Star player: Gylfi Sigurðsson
Prediction: Not the hardest group to get out of, neither will it be easy, but if they can defeat Croatia once more, entering top 16 won’t be a problem for Iceland.
After finishing in 2nd place in a qualifying group, Croatia a had to defeat Greece in the playoffs to advance to the World Cup. The first match in Croatia ended with a final result of 4:1, which meant Greece had a hard task ahead of them, winning by 3 goals at home. Greece failed to do so, as they were dominated by Croatia even at home. Despite that Croatia failed to score and the second match ended with 0:0, which meant Croatia will once more appear in the World Cup. Looking at their performance in the qualifying group, Croatia ended up with 20 points, 2 short of reaching the 1st place, which belonged to Iceland. An overall record of 6-2-2 shows they were decent but not good enough, at least not good enough for what was expected from them, which was the 1st spot in the group and direct entry to the World Cup. As far as their squad goes, Croatia does have some star players, but not enough depth to go all the way. We saw them being defeated by Portugal in extra time at Euro 2016, which seems like a great result, still, they have a lot to prove this year.
Star player: Luka Modric
Prediction: Getting out of the group is a must for them, anything more will depend on their performances.
Nigeria has improved and added a lot of young talent on their roster, still, they have been put in a tough group to get out of. Looking at their qualifying games, Nigeria surprisingly went through it with relative ease, ending at the 1st spot with an overall record of 4-2-0, ahead of Zambia, Cameroon, and Algeria. Still, it’s hard to say how good they are, since most of their new players are unknown, at least as far as their quality goes. To be fair, we cannot look past their great performance in a match against Argentina in November (2:4) where they showed they do have some potential. Do I see them advancing from the group? Not likely, but games against them will be decisive for Croatia and Iceland as they are 2 competitors for the 2nd spot.
Star player: John Obi Mikel
Prediction: They landed a hard group, however, I think they do have some hidden potential, but we will have to wait and see how they play.