The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14. Leading up to the tourney, we’ll offer our previews and predictions for each of the eight groups. Today, a look at Group D:
FIFA rank (as of June 10, 2018): 5
Best player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi is Argentina. He’s Argentina’s all-time leading goal-scorer. He has also been the face of Barcelona since the departure of Ronaldinho in 2008.
One to watch: Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
Dybala, the 24-year-old forward scored 22 goals for Juventus this season in the Serie A and has been a star at the club since he transferred from Palermo in 2015.
Argentina expects to win and some say it is now or never for Messi and the Argentines. The nation’s forward group is obviously better than their back end. If they are able to prevent goals then maybe this can be their year.
The Copa del Rey final awaits.
Throwback to Lionel Messi's first goal in the 2014/2015 final against Athletic Club. One of the best goals i've ever seen.
This is what he does. pic.twitter.com/btVDAVv9X2
— GK16 (@GolazoLeo) April 20, 2018
FIFA rank: 22
Best player: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
Sigdursson is pivotal in Iceland’s attack and even though he had a tough season in Everton he is still the go-to player for this team.
One to watch: Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City)
Magnusson is a 25-year-old defender who appeared in 24 matches for Bristol City in the Championship. He transferred to the Italian giants Juventus in 2011, however he never played in a match for them.
Iceland proved they could compete on an international stage at the Euros in 2016 when they advanced through the group stage and beat England in the Round of 16.
— ❄️ Fadel 🇮🇸 (@faddi73) October 9, 2017
FIFA rank: 18
Best player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Croatia’s captain, Modric is the engine of their midfield who will use his passing ability to provide scoring opportunities for his team.
One to watch: Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)
Kovacic is a 24-year-old midfielder who has played well with his time in Madrid. He began playing for the national team when he was only 19.
The pressure will be on Croatia to make it through Group D behind Argentina. They have a strong midfield and matches against Nigeria and Iceland are not easy wins.
— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) June 8, 2018
FIFA rank: 47
Best player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda)
Former Chelsea midfielder will captain his country at age 31. Still a quality player, Mikel will be relied upon to provide stability in the midfield.
One to watch: Victor Moses (Chelsea)
After a good year with Chelsea, Moses played mostly a defensive role for his club and will be looked upon more in the midfield and possibly up front for his country.
This is a tough group for Nigeria and facing Argentina last gives them the opportunity to clinch a spot in the knockout stage before they reach the South American giants.
Coach Gernot Rohr.
“This game shows we still have a lot of work to do to be ready for the World Cup. We have to make the best use of the 2 weeks left before our first game in Russia. It’s time to focus..no distractions.”#SoarSuperEagles #Team9jaStrong. pic.twitter.com/vubxa6qOCs
— 🇳🇬 Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) June 2, 2018
Group Winner: Argentina. Their offensive play with Messi is too much to handle for the rest of the group.
Group Runner-Up: Croatia. Croatia’s midfield is clinical and they have a well-balanced back line.