Group’s A, B and C are done – we move to Group D.
This group contains Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.
This one looks one of the easier groups to call. Argentina and Croatia should be the two to Qualify, but Iceland and Nigeria will provide some stiff opposition.
Here’s my take on the Group and my top tips:
Normally Argentina have issues at the back – a general lack of full-backs leads to them having quite a narrow team with no overlapping players. However this time they have a couple of in-form full-backs in Nicolas Tagliafico and Cristian Ansaldi, whilst the likes of Eduardo Salvio can play at right-back if necessary. Add in the likes of Mascherano and in-form Otamendi, and Sergio Romero or Wily Caballero in goal and they have sorted those issues.
Going forward, they are looking fine, even being able to leave out Mauro Icardi. I’m not sure where to start in terms of assessing who will start – if they play a 4-3-3, it’s probably going to be Messi, Aguero and Di Maria but you could easily play Dybala on either wing.
Should win the group, the only threat I see is Croatia.
Love this Croatia side! Full of quality all over the pitch, from Subasic in goal, Sime Vrsaljko in defence, Modric in midfield and the likes of Mandzukic up-front.
Add in the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric and you have a hell of a team! There is a step down in terms of quality on the bench – but there are some good youngsters like Marko Pjaca, and there is also not a great deal of pace – looking at their forwards, Mandzukic, Kramaric and Kalinic are not the quickest.
I think they’ll have no problem qualifying – but could have a shot at winning the group and they will want to as quite frankly, if they don’t they’ll probably play France.
One of this tournament’s debutants. Not many household names bar Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alfred Finnbogason – a team of real hard workers, as proven at the 2016 European Championships.
With Argentina and Croatia in their group, I can’t see them managing to pull off another shock by getting any further than the group stage.
Similar to Iceland – I don’t foresee Nigeria going far. They have a decent squad, with a very robust central midfield with the likes of Obi-Mikel, Onazi and Wilfried Ndidi. Plenty of pace going forward with the likes of Victor Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa but for me there is a general lack of quality, and that will hamper their efforts to get results against much better sides.
Group Forecast – 1: Argentina / 2: Croatia @ 7/4
Excellent Value: Nigeria to finish bottom @ 5/4
High Value: Nigeria Under 1.5 Points @ 7/4
Banker: Argentina/Croatia To Qualify @ 4/6 (Dual Forecast)