World Cup Group D – Betting Tips and Preview
Many football fans would’ve been eagerly awaiting the World Cup 2018 group draw to see who Argentina would get in what is almost certain to be Lionel Messi’s final time on the biggest stage of them all for his country.
Well, unfortunately for the Barcelona magician, he and his country have been handed a fairly tough task with Croatia, Nigeria and first-timers Iceland making up one of the hardest FIFA World Cup 2018 groups.
The World Cup schedule for Group D begins on Saturday 16 June, which is the third day of the tournament, where Argentina will begin against Iceland in what should be an intriguing battle. The matches for Group D World Cup 2018 will then be played over the next ten days with the top two progressing into the last 16 of the tournament.
So, they are the dates World Cup 2018 fans need to keep in their diary, particularly if you follow one of these countries and here at OpenOdds we will strive to give you an in-depth look as to what you should expect from this group and also any recommended bets.
Winner Prediction: Argentina
It won’t surprise any reader to see that we are tipping Argentina to win the group, although it may not be as straight forward as many envisage.
However, with Messi in their ranks and manager Jorge Sampaoli committed to playing fast, attacking football, they should have the firepower to see off these sides, although beating Croatia will be a tough test.
Many will know just how close Argentina came to a national catastrophe by almost failing to qualify for Russia. Their fate was unknown going into the last round of qualifying games in South America, where they needed to beat Ecuador away. Fortunately for them, Messi scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win.
Yet, their reliance on the star man is alarming, they lost 6-1 in a friendly to Spain without him in the last round of friendlies, proving just how much responsibility will be on his shoulders in Russia.
That shouldn’t really be the case when you consider the squad they have, with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria just some of the attacking talent. Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala didn’t even make the last squad! Although there were concerns about how they can link up with Messi, particularly the Juventus man.
Either way, whilst Argentina look capable on paper, performances have been hit and miss, but they should just have enough to top the group here.
Argentina are a best-priced 7/10 with Marathon Bet to emerge from this group victorious, which seems a fair price. The importance of finishing top shouldn’t be understated either, with second place highly likely to face France in the last 16.
Detailed overview of Group D
After their heroic performances in Euro 2016 which included a win over England, Iceland will be a favourite of many neutrals at Russia – their first appearance at the finals.
It is a truly remarkable time for the country where football is concerned and Heimir Hallgrímsson will hope his overachievers can once again shock the world.
Whilst they are a direct, hardworking side, they do have some quality players with Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson the standout. He suffered a knee injury in March that threatened to ruin his World Cup which would have been a devastating blow for Iceland but thankfully it appears he should return in time.
Next up, Nigeria will be quietly confident of repeating what they did in Brazil four years ago by advancing from the group and if they do manage it, their Premier League players will have played a big part.
Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester, Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi are three key men for this Nigeria side. They counter with pace and have good attacking options in the final third, so will be dangerous opponents for anyone.
Finally, Croatia boast a ridiculously talented group, with players from some of the biggest clubs in world football.
Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Real Madrid pair Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic will try and control the midfield whilst up front Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic is a threat with his physicality and size. Inter Milan duo Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Borzovic also bring a lot of creativity to the side.
Clearly, they are a class act, however they’ve often failed to fulfil their potential which is a concern ahead of this tournament once again.
With their individual quality they should be able to give most in the world a good game on their day and fans will hope that it all comes together in Russia.
Runners-Up Prediction: Croatia
Given what we’ve just said about the side, you have to go with Croatia to finish second even though it will be a tough ask.
As seems always the case, the situation with Croatian football is far from stable, with fans unhappy with players and a lot of controversy surrounding key figures in the game that even involves some star men in this team. Many will remember how fans disrupted a game at Euro 2016 with violence, despite the side winning at the time.
Yet, despite that backdrop, every one of the players and staff will pull together for Russia under Zlatko Dalić who was only appointed late last year when qualification looked uncertain.
And, if they do all pull together then Croatia are a real threat. We’ve listed some of the key players they’ve got and the calibre of clubs they play for shows how seriously Croatia should be taken.
With that in mind, we feel they should have enough to overcome Iceland and Nigeria to advance with the Argentines. You can get them at 6/4 with Sky Bet to finish as runners up in Group D.
Recommended Bet: Iceland to finish last – Betway – 11/10
It’s tough to write off Iceland after what happened at Euro 2016 and we have no doubt that they will show superb spirit and fight.
However, the reality is that they are coming up against three very good sides, with Croatia and Argentina in particular two that you could make a strong case for reaching the quarter-finals.
Then, when you match them up player for player with Nigeria, the African side are a lot better as well, whilst they should be able to cope with the physicality of Iceland when the sides meet.
They play each other in the second game and given there will still be a lot on the line then which may favour the Nigerians, particularly if Iceland need a win and have to open up.
We have no doubt that they will enjoy their World Cup adventure and they will bring a lot to the tournament however expect an early elimination for the European side after the tough group they’ve been handed.