This is a tough group. Argentina will stand as the favorites but Croatia are a very talented team who can cause trouble for Argentina. Nigeria and Iceland round out the group and are no slouches either. Iceland had an incredible run at Euros 2016 and bring a fighting spirit to the World Cup. They will be the fan favorites throughout the tournament. Nigeria is explosive and exciting on attack. Group D is one to watch because any two teams could advance to the round of 16.
This team has an ultra talented attack and a mediocre defense. Leo Messi can lead them to glory but other players need to step up. Players like Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuian need to put in goals and make plays for this team to make it deep into the tournament. The ability is there but can they put it all together when they have to? I still think their defense is weak and Nicolas Otamendi is garbage. I know he made the Premier League team of the year but he was protected by a team that often had 80% of the possession. He was exposed against Liverpool this season and will be exposed with less protection on Argentina. Messi can carry this team but they can win it all if others play well too. I pick them to win the group.
This is a dark horse team for a lot of people to go deep into the tournament. They are led by world class midfielder Luka Modric, and he will orchestrate the offense. They have an exceptionally talented midfield with Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic along with Modric. Talent hasn’t been the question, but coaching and having a coherent system are the problem with this team. Croatia finished behind Iceland in qualifying and fired their coach. They have a new, inexperienced coach and if he doesn’t install a fitting style for the team they could struggle. The team also has Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren who can often go walkabout on defense and make bad errors. Croatia could make it to the quarterfinals but they may not get out of this tough group. I pick them third in this group, because I think they will struggle to find form as a team.
This is your favorite team at the World Cup. They had an incredible run at the 2016 Euros and they could do it again here. Iceland are the opposite of Croatia and they have an incredible team spirit. These things matter a lot when you play a bunch of games in a matter of a few weeks. Gylfi Sigurdsson is the talisman of this Iceland team and he will have a lot to do for Iceland do advance. They will have to work hard and pull some results together but I think they are good enough to get results against Nigeria and Croatia. I’m picking them 2nd in the group mostly because that’s what I want to see.
This is a tough team with talent in midfield and attack. Led by John Obi Mikel and Wilfred Ndidi in central midfield they will need to control the tempo so their shaky goaltending is not exposed. They also have pacy attackers in Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho. They pose a threat going forward but may start 19 year old goalie Francis Uzoho, who is inexperienced and not playing consistently at club level. The defense is also young and raw. They will need to outscore opponents to move forward. They are capable of that but their defensive issues may be too much to overcome. I pick them last in this very difficult group.
Players to watch
- Gylfi Sigurdsson
- Kelechi Iheanacho
- Leo Messi
- Ivan Perisic
- What kind of mistakes will Otamendi and Lovren make?