World Cup 2018 – Group D preview
A team including Lionel Messi can never be ignored, even though the 2014 runners-up struggled to make it to this World Cup.
But other key talents like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have been far from top form for Argentina. Another star performer could be Pablo Dybala; the Juventus striker can change a game in an instant.
With the incredible history from Argentina, only a fool would rule them out.
Key Man – Lionel Messi
He’s the top scorer in national team history and is well on his way to cementing his legacy as the best player the world has ever seen.
Coach – Jorge Sampaoli
The 57-year-old is his country’s third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with one win in four official matches.
Euro 2016 was their first appearance at a major tournament, and they surpassed all expectations. But can they do it again, this time at the World Cup? They face a tough group with three teams more talented than them, but heart and teamwork can overcome the lack of pure, top-tier talent.
Opening up against Argentina means they’ll be under pressure in the second game against Nigeria.
Key Man – Gylfi Sigurdsson
The attacking midfield is talented, smart and creative, and he’s the engine in the team’s attack.
Coach – Heimir Hallgrimsson
Not many teams are coached by a dentist, but Iceland aren’t most teams. Took sole charge after Co-coach Lars Lagerback in 2016.
The second-most talented team in the group behind Argentina, the pressure is going to be on to beat Nigeria and Iceland to go through. A slip-up in the first match, even a draw, and they are in trouble. Three points, and they’ll be in a great spot to move on. This team is so strong in the middle and has some veterans in the final third that can make a big impact. At the back, if composed, they are a team that could really make a run to the quarterfinals.
Key Man – Luka Modric
Croatia looks at Modric, their undisputable leader in hopes to emulate the third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup.
Coach – Zlatko Dalic
Took charge of a critical situation with one game remaining in the qualifying. Then Croatia overcame Greece in the play-offs.
If this were any other group, I’d like their chances to move on. But having to go up against Argentina, Iceland and Croatia, it’s going to be tough. Playing Argentina last gives them the opportunity to clinch a spot before even playing that game, but you have to feel they’ll need at least a draw against Croatia in the opener to have a chance. This is a borderline round of 16 teams.
Key Man – John Obi Mikel
While Nigeria has attacking talent aplenty, captain Mikel has provided crucial stability in central midfield.
Coach – Gernot Rohr
Like Mikel, Rohr has been a calming influence for Nigeria, which has changed coaches eight times since the last World Cup.