2018 World Cup Group D Preview
Group D has been label as the Group of Death. Argentina expected to qualify and with Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland are almost have the same strength here.
Argentina have faced the same dilemma for being too on overloaded attack and lack of quality in defence, but they did make it through to the final at Brazil 2014 and have one of the greatest footballers in the team.
New manager Jorge Sampaoli prefer training in order to transmit his fast-paced, high pressing and attacking approach to the squad than playing friendly games. A recent 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Spain is a big concern. Argentina are priced 1.60 by Sportsbook Malaysia
to win Group D but need to aware of the unpredictable opponents.
The Argentine attack is form by devastating and dangerous players which will make Sampaoli having a tough selection and combination from the likes of Messi, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi or he may rotate them along the competition. The defensive options at the back line whom play against the recent trashing by Spain comprising of Nicolás Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolás Tagliafico and Fabricio Bustos.
Croatia will be competing in their 5th World Cup with their debut at France 1998 where they finished 3rd. Manager Zlatko Dalić has been in charge for five games after Ante Čačić was sacked in October, he have steer the team to reach Russia. Croatia have top quality midfielder consisting of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic while Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric and Mario Mandzukic provide offensive threat.
An opening game against Nigeria is a perfect opportunity to get a win start before facing Argentina and Iceland. Croatia will be an entertaining side to watch and should have enough quality to qualify from Group D, but with their new manager who is inexperienced on the international stage is still a concern.
This is the 6th World Cup for Nigeria after going undefeated in their group which included Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria under German manager Gernot Rohr. The Super Eagles have a proud record at the World Cup, reaching the Round of 16 on three occasions including Brazil 2014 where they were knocked out by France
Nigeria have many former and current English Premier League players in their ranks including Ola Aina, John Mikel Obi, Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho. Nigeria have been growing in confidence especially after a 4-2 win against Argentina in a friendly game last November.
Nigeria have an array of fast and physical players and are likely to have the youngest team in Russia. Excitement should be guaranteed on their opening game against Croatia. Their major concerns still exist with the absence of a top class goalkeeper and defence which lacks experience at the highest level.
Iceland reached Russia 2018 as the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup with a population of just 334,000. The achievement comes after Iceland qualified for their first ever major tournament at the 2016 European Championships, famously beating England 2-1.
Iceland qualified for their first World Cup finishing top of their group contains Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey. Managed by Heimir Hallgrímsson since 2013, the team plays very entertaining and incredibly hard to beat, playing with passion and a collective work ethic that allows them to continually win against the odds.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is the leader and most influential member of the team followed by Ragnar Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson and Johann Gudmundsson. The Icelandic supporters are a joy to watch and many neutral fans will be them can spring surprises in Russia.
Group D is incredibly hard to predict. Argentina are the obvious choice to win the group at 1.60. The three remaining nations all have flaws that can be exploited which makes Nigeria a good choice to pick for qualifier.
Qualify from Group D: Nigeria at 3.40