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World Cup Group D tips and predictions

Who will win Group D? Which nations will make it through to the knockout stage? Our experts share their tips and predictions.

Group D World Cup Standings

TeamPlayedPoints
Argentina00
Iceland00
Croatia00
Nigeria00

Group D World Cup 2018 Teams

Argentina

Argentina come into this summer’s World Cup looking to atone for losing the final in 2014, as Mario Gotze’s winner in extra-time crowned Germany as world champions. Both Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain came within inches of scoring in that final and this could well be the last time they and a number of their teammates get the opportunity to win the ultimate international prize for their country.

Despite the wealth and variety of talent that has arrived since, Argentina are still yet to win the World Cup since Diego Maradona’s famous efforts in 1986 where he announced himself to be one of the greatest players of all-time. It is that achievement that currently separates Maradona from Messi in the eyes of most Argentina supporters, with the Barcelona man still yet to experience winning a major tournament for his country.

Argentina finished third in the South American qualifying group and relied upon a monster performance from Messi to seal their place at this summer’s finals, as he scored a hat-trick in their vital game with Ecuador. 

Iceland

The fairytale of the Icelandic football team will carry on through to the World Cup after they completed a successful qualification campaign, impressively finishing top of a group that featured Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey. Iceland proved to be the best of a tight group of teams and it will be intriguing to see how they fare against Croatia on the big stage, having won and lost against them in their two meetings in qualifying.

There is no doubt that Iceland benefitted from the ‘easier’ format of Euro 2016, in which they reached the quarter-final stage, which allowed them to set up more to play for a draw in most games in the knowledge that three teams could progress from their group.

The prospect of facing Messi and co. in their first game at the World Cup finals after finishing bottom of a group of just five teams in qualifying for the 2010 tournament would’ve seemed far fetched to say the least. Yet this is the reality for Iceland, who are one of the best stories to come from international football in recent years.

Croatia

As far as outsiders for the tournament go, Croatia certainly come under that bracket and remain one of the more unpredictable teams in the competition. In open play, Croatia were one of the more impressive teams at Euro 2016 before eventually being eliminated by Portugal on penalties at the Round of 16.

Boasting some of the best midfield talent in the tournament in Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic, they will be a difficult team to gain possession from which is always an important factor at international tournaments. They defeated Spain at Euro 2016 in their final group game and group favourites Argentina should be wary of the threat they will pose in a one-off game.

Croatia’s away form cost them automatic qualification to the World Cup as they were instead forced to overcame a playoff against Greece to qualify for the tournament. Having failed to go past the group stages of the World Cup since finishing third in 1998, Croatia have been real underachievers at the World cup in recent years.

Nigeria

One of the top sides in African football, Nigeria have the potential to upset any team in this group if things click for them at the right time. Facing Argentina in their last group game, they will hope either the South American side are already qualified by that point or either they themselves have taken two positive results from their first two games.

Nigeria went unbeaten during World Cup qualifying, winning five and drawing three of their eight games over the qualification spell and the country have competed in all but one World Cup finals since 1994, when they missed out altogether in 2006.

There is plenty of Premier League interest and experience in the Nigeria squad, including John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi, all of whom will be crucial to their team’s success. Nigeria made it out of their World Cup group in 2014 - a group which also contained Argentina - and that will be their target at this summer’s tournament once again.

Group D Fixtures

Saturday 16th June - 2.00pm BST
Argentina v Iceland
Otkrytie Arena, Moscow

Saturday 16th June - 8.00pm BST
Croatia v Nigeria
Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Thursday 21st June - 7.00pm BST 
Argentina  v Croatia
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

Friday 22nd June - 4.00pm BST
Nigeria v Iceland
Volgograd Arena, Volgograd

Tuesday 26th June - 7.00pm BST
Iceland v Croatia
Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Tuesday 26th June - 7.00pm BST
Nigeria v Argentina
Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Group D predictions and betting tips - World Cup 2018

Group D Winner Tip

Any team that has Lionel Messi in it always stands a chance at a major tournament and both he and the rest of his dangerous attacking front line should be enough to see Argentina finish top of Group D.

This team is the most experienced and has the most quality throughout in Group D and has the added chip on their shoulder of losing the 2014 final, as well as the 2015 Copa America final.

Time is running out for Messi and other experienced members of the Argentina squad such as Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain to win something at international level and there will be a sense of urgency from them to make a fast start to this tournament.

Messi, Higuain and Sergio Aguero have a combined 128 goals between them at international level and it’s difficult to see anybody else in this group from stopping them.

Group D Runner Up Tip

The rest of the group is relatively wide open, but Croatia would be most disappointed of all not to make it out of this group of the other three contending sides given they have the strongest squad available.

On a pure results basis, both Iceland and Nigeria can compete with Croatia over the past two years or so, but the big-game experience of Croatia’s most important players is an intangible factor that can not be underestimated. 

Players like Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic and Mario Mandzukic have all played in Champions League finals and won multiple domestic league titles between them and that feeling of winning is so important at the elite level. Iceland and Nigeria won’t be walkovers, but Croatia’s extra level of quality should see them through.

Group D Finish Bottom Tip

For all of the romance behind Iceland’s incredible rise from European football minnows to competitors at back-to-back European Championship and World Cup finals, they may not enjoy such a happy ending this time around. 

Nigeria have a wealth of experience at the World Cup, having competed in at all but one of every competition since 1994, which leaves them well aware of the pressures that come with playing on the biggest stage on the planet.

Iceland, however, don’t have such a background and they will be far more feared and respected by their opponents at this tournament than they were at Euro 2016, where they eliminated England in the Round of 16.

Group D World Cup 2018 Final Standings Prediction

1stArgentinaBack This Prediction
2ndCroatiaBack This Prediction
3rdNigeriaBack This Prediction
4thIcelandBack This Prediction

World Cup Group D Betting Tips - #TeamFT Predictions

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