The likes of Argentina, Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria make one of the most appealing and interesting groups to watch at the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Nigeria would have probably been in a better position to qualify for the knockouts if they were in a different group. They have a talented squad with the likes of Premier League players Victor Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi leading the front-line. Yet, they are clearly inexperienced at this level and would be a surprise to see them go past the first hurdle.
Under German born coach Gernot Rohr’s management, they booked their ticket to Russia with a game in hand. However, the final group game against Algeria which ended 1-1 was awarded to the opposition after Rohr fielded an ineligible player.
The Super Eagles reached the round of 16 at Brazil in 2014, but their progress was halted by France. Nigeria have never gone beyond this stage after making through the group stage in 2 of their 5 overall appearances.
Argentina are the main favourites to top it at first sight, but they will be challenged heavily by the mentioned teams and this is one of our top two groups to watch this summer.
Los Gauchos have the world’s best player in their ranks and given that Lionel Messi only need a big international trophy to complete his incredible career; we just have to see Jorge Sampaoli’s side as one of the main contenders for the title in Russia.
Messi has been enjoying another fantastic season with Barcelona and he will be highly motivated to finally get the result at the international level after recent failures with the national side.
Argentina have been very unlucky in recent years losing Copa America finals to Chile in consecutive years as well as falling to Germany in the title clash of the previous edition of the World Cup in Brazil four years ago.
Barcelona’s superstar will have fantastic companions in the final third in the likes of Sergio Aguero (will likely claim the Premier League title with Manchester City – their top scorer), Gonzalo Higuain & Paulo Dybala (Juventus’ duo has also been brilliant in this season) and Angel Di Maria (has been enjoying decent season with PSG in Ligue 1). The defensive line could be stronger, but Sergio Romero will still have a nice support with the names of Javier Mascherano and Nicolas Otamendi ahead of him.
Croatia emerge as the second favorites in this group even though they needed to go through the playoffs to earn their fifth World Cup appearance. They came second to Iceland in the qualifying group, but they clearly have the team capable of big things in Russia.
Vatreni have only managed to go beyond the group stage once on five occasions at the biggest stage, but they have done it in some style back in 1998 when they took the bronze medal in France (Davor Suker won the competition’s golden boot award).
The team had a turbulent campaign during the qualifications and they’ve made the change on the bench right before the decisive clash with Ukraine appointing the current manager Zlatko Dalic as the new boss.
Croatia are super strong at the center of the park with the likes of Luka Modric (Real Madrid) and Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona) making them a formidable force. The attack is also powerful with the names of Mario Mandzukic and Andrej Kramaric (has been enjoying an amazing form with Hoffenheim in this term of Bundesliga).
Iceland are about to make their maiden appearance at the biggest stage, but one can just not underestimate them after the team with “just a couple of households” (300,000 is their population) reached the quarterfinal of EURO 2016 in France (also their debut at the continental competition).
The team led by Heimir Hallgrimsson earned sympathies all around Europe for magnificent and brave displays at the mentioned EURO 2016. They’ve backed it up with a brilliant campaign in WC Qualifications having nine different players on the score-sheet on the road to topping their respective group head of the likes of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is the main star, but the Premier League veteran has not been quite enjoying his time at Goodison Park, since joining Everton from Swansea City last summer.