At the midway of our preview series of the FIFA World Cup 2018, we have come across one of the most difficult groups to get out off. Group D consists of Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.
Here’s a look at all of them in depth.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup finalists, Argentina had a rocky road in their quest of qualification.
Earlier, the nation was rocked in 2016 when their messiah Lionel Messi was distraught after losing the Copa America Cup to Chile and claimed he is retiring from the international football.
However, he took back his words and helped his country finish third in the CONMEBOL standing by defeating Ecuador 3-1 on the final matchday.
Being managed by Jorge Sampaoli, the team is under a manager who is known to set-up his team efficiently. His teams are also famous for a high-tempo pressing brand of football, something that Argentina can use to their strength.
In fact, when you look at Argentina’s squad their core strength is the attacking prowess the team possesses.
Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel di Maria, Paulo Dybala are some of the world-renowned players on their roster.
The Achilles Heel for the side has always been a leaky defence. With the help of Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otamendi, they might curb this problem.
Also, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano will help out the defence with their defensive midfielder duties.
The team has in-form players around the pitch and will be looking the best in this edition of the World Cup.
Key Players: Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Romero
Iceland had a sensational Euro 2016 tournament where they defied all the expectations and odds to enter the quarter-final. The defeated England in the round of 16, which was said to be the shock of the tournament.
They have carried forward this momentum as they qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the time in their history.
The team consists of part-time workers who have to work elsewhere to fund their passion for football. Only a few players do play in any of the major leagues in the world.
Gylfi Sigurdsson dawns the role of the creative playmaker for the team and keeps them ticking whenever it is required.
Captain Aron Gunnarsson will once again be captain of the Vikings.
Key Players: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Alfreð Finnbogason
Verdict: Group Stage
1998 third-placed team Croatia has had massive management changes in the recent time. Real Madrid’s midfielder Luka Modric is leading the lineup has Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic to give him company in the midfield.
Up-top, the team has Mario Mandzukic to rely on and Ivan Perisic to trouble the defence with his fiery pace on the wings.
Dejan Lovren and Vedran Corluka complete the spine of the team as they form a strong defensive unit at the back.
Key Players: Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren
Verdict: Round of 16
The country is third of the five African nations that had qualified for the World Cup.
Nigeria has one of the youngest squads at the tournament. This stat is a double-edged sword i.e it can either be beneficial to these young players to have this experience of playing at the biggest stage of them all or can be catastrophic due to their inexperience.
Former Chelsea man John Obi Mikel is the captain of the side and has some experienced players in Victor Moses and Elderson Echiejile for company.
Premier League’s young duo Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho will share the mantle of attacking duties with Ahmed Musa who plays in the Russian League.
Key Players: Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Moses, John Obi Mikel
Verdict: Group Stage