World Cup Preview – Group D | Argentina v Iceland – Croatia v Nigeria

Group D has been christened the ‘Group of Death’ and it easy to see why with big hitters from South America, Europe and Africa.

Argentina begin the tournament as one of the favourites and also favourites for Group D and they begin their campaign against European surprise packages Iceland – who are at their first World Cup finals – in Moscow.

Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli believes his side are more than capable of making a big impact in Russia.

“For me, the objective is to enhance individual characteristics to make a great World Cup. If we dare to play, we will be a complex opponent for anyone,” he said.

“We are obliged to move an entire country, I hope we can do it the way we want.”

Iceland’s Heimir Hallgrimsson believes having such a tough group helps whichever teams make it through.

“The group is equal and I think that’s in our favour,” he says.

“If or when – I don’t know which word to use – we get through there’s not going to be any opponent much tougher than Argentina, Nigeria or Croatia. It gives you the feeling that, if we qualify for the last 16, we shouldn’t fear anyone.”

The other game sees Nigeria face Croatia in Kaliningrad, with both believing they can open their campaign with a victory.


See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

Morocco 14:00 Iran
Spartak Stadium, Moscow
Live on ITV

TEAM NEWS AND POSSIBLE LINE-UPS: Sergio Aguero is due to start his first game since being injured in April, but Argentina believe he is fully fit.

Argentina: Wilfredo Caballero; Eduardo Salvio, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico; Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia; Maximiliano Meza, Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria; Sergio Aguero

Iceland: Hannes Halldorsson; Hordur Magnusson, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Kari Arnason, Birkir Saevarsson; Emil Hallfredsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Birkir Bjarnason, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Johann Gudmundsson; Jon Bodvarsson

KEY FACT: This is Iceland’s first ever game at a World Cup finals
Match odds from bet365: ARGENTINA 4/11 DRAW 17/4 ICELAND 9/1
bet365 Pick: Under 2.5 goals @4/5
ANDY SAYS: Little doubt that Iceland will make life tough, but I don’t see Argentina not winning…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: I am not too impressed with Argentina, I think they might struggle to beat Iceland…1-1
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Sergio Aguero – Back to fitness, he is capable of winning the Golden Boot

Nigeria 20:00 Croatia
Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
Live on ITV

Nigeria have doubts over Odion Ighalo, Wilfred Ndidi and Leon Balogun, but all are expected to start.

Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Strinic; Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic; Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic; Mario Mandzukic

Nigeria: Francis Uzoho; Brian Idowu, Shehu Abdullahi, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong; Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, John Obi Mikel; Odion Ighalo

KEY FACT: Nigeria have the youngest squad at the World Cup finals
Match odds from bet365: CROATIA 8/11 DRAW 11/4 NIGERIA 9/2
bet365 Pick: Luka Modric first goal @10/1
ANDY SAYS: I think Croatia are a class act and they will be too good for Nigeria…3-1
GRAEME SAYS: Croatia have one of my favourite squads in Russia, they will win this game…2-0
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Luka Modric – A genius of a player, who should be higher in the Index

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