World Cup 2018 – The Fans’ Preview: Group D

World Cup 2018 is going to be here very soon, the biggest sporting event on earth and i think its time for a quick overall view of of the teams in the competition. We will post some analysis to share with you and lets get a few of the microwave pop corn ready, clean your sofa and stock up your fridge and do the count down!!!

Group D is not a hard one to get excited about.

Top heavy Argentina take on the giant killers of Iceland in the opener on June 16, while playmaker-riddled Croatia face the African side with perhaps the deepest talent pool to choose from in Nigeria the same day.
All four sides surely have ambitions beyond the three group games. For Argentina a third title is the only goal, as Iceland’s clapping contingent are hopeful of another notable scalp.

In terms of talent there’s plenty to look for from Luka Modric to Sergio Aguero, Wilfred Ndidi to Ivan Rakitic. Oh and there’s Lionel Messi, of course.

Here’s what the fans think…

1. Argentina

Name: Brian Goldfarb

Best moment during qualification: The victory against Ecuador in the last game. Argentina needed to win in Quito to qualify. It is a very difficult place to play due to the altitude, and Argentina had lost in most of the previous games there. Ecuador scored in the first minute, but Messi had an amazing night and scored a hat-trick.

Proudest moment ever as an Argentina fan: The last time we won an official tournament was in 1993 and I was eight years old. Since then, we haven’t had many results to be proud of honestly. We reached a lot of finals and we lost all of them. For other countries reaching the final of a World Cup could be considered a big achievement, but that’s not the case for Argentina.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Cristian Pavon [Boca Juniors forward]. He has been the best player in the Argentinian league this season. Europeans don’t know him yet, but he will soon be playing in one of the big leagues. He can be one of the revelations in Russia.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: I don’t have a second team. When Argentina loses I just don’t care about the World Cup anymore, but if I have to chose one team I would say Uruguay. I admire how such a small country with a population of less than four million people always manages to compete against everyone.

Which group game are you most nervous about: The second match, against Croatia, looks like the most difficult one. However, I don’t expect Iceland to be easy and Nigeria is a very dangerous rival as well. It is very important to beat Iceland first and then Croatia, so we face Nigeria as an already qualified team.

Realistically how far will Argentina go: It will be very difficult to go further than the quarters, but everything is possible if Messi is inspired.

2. Croatia

Name: Elliot Solomon

Proudest moment ever as a Croatia fan: It would have to be Croatia’s first World Cup as an independent country [1998], the performance was far beyond what anyone was expecting, and were unlucky to go out the way they did in the semi-finals; a really incredible effort.

Worst moment ever as a Croatia fan: The behaviour of the fans is always the main issue with supporting Croatia. Most are great, but there are enough troublemakers to cause embarrassment. The chemical marking of a swastika on the pitch is probably one of the worst recently, causing some of the qualifying matches to be played behind closed doors.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) and Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen). Both are looking in great form and will contribute massively to some defensive stability. In my opinion, Jedvaj especially could be one of the greats.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: It’s hard to look past Brazil this year. They have so much top talent coming of age. I still don’t rate Neymar as highly as other people, but if he’s in form, it’ll be Brazil to watch out for. I’m expecting an incredible performance from them this year.

Which group game are you most nervous about: Argentina. Iceland can humble a team, but Argentina are always horrible to have to play. Messi and Aguero are simply terrifying. Either player just needs a moment to tear you apart.

Realistically how far will Croatia go: I could definitely see quarter-finals, or the semis if we get lucky along the way. There’s definitely some real quality all throughout the squad this year.

One player who will make the squad but shouldn’t in your opinion: Nikola Kalinic, I’ve never been impressed with him at any level, domestically or internationally. He always makes the team, but I’d rather gamble on some of the younger attackers available.

3. Iceland

 

Name: Einar Lövdahl Gunnlaugsson and Jóhann Páll Ástvaldsson @sons_icefire

Proudest moment ever as an Iceland fan: This has to be our 2-1 victory against England in France 2016. If you listen carefully you can still hear the voice of Gummi Ben, the Icelandic commentator who went nuts after our second goal, echoing throughout Europe.

Worst moment ever as an Iceland fan: We hit rock bottom in 2007 when we lost 3-0 against Liechtenstein in the Euro 2008 qualifiers. It was a horrible result. However, it’s harder to swallow a defeat when the stakes are higher, so we have to mention the loss against Croatia in the play-offs for a place in the 2014 World Cup. At half-time it was 0-0, Mandzukic had been sent off and we only needed one goal – but instead Croatia schooled us.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Albert Guðmundsson. Albert is actually the son of the aforementioned Gummi Ben and the great-grandchild of the first professional footballer from Iceland ever, who played for AC Milan and Arsenal in the 1940s.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: It’s still surreal to think about that we Icelanders won’t have to pick another country than Iceland to support at this World Cup, like we’ve been doing since forever. Believe it or not, England is probably the most common team for Icelanders to support. But the smaller nations have to stick together this year, and especially the fellow debutants, so we have to go with Panama.

Which group game are you most nervous about: Our opening game against Argentina is all everyone is talking about and definitely the most important one. There’s no way around that. If we get a good result in that game, anything can happen. The game is extra interesting due to its resemblance to our opening match at the 2016 Euros against Portugal.

Realistically how far will Iceland go: Icelanders will be proud of the team if they give it their all in every match. Having said that, the second place in the group is a possibility if everything goes to plan. If we’re 100% honest, all we ask for is one moment of complete euphoria. Just one goal. That’s all.

4. Nigeria

Name: Kingsley Oluwajuwon Dare

Best moment during qualification: Nigeria vs Cameroon. It’s always good to get one over your neighbours but even better to do it in style. 4-0, four different scorers, champagne football.

Proudest moment ever as a Nigeria fan: February 10, 2013, Africa Cup of Nations final. We held out for a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso. This meant a lot as we had not won the tournament in my lifetime and had endured a few heartbreaks in finals. It was great to finally get over the hump!

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester City’s holding midfielder who was tasked with filling the big boots of N’Golo Kante at domestic level. Ndidi won the most tackles in the Premier League this season and this midfield destroyer could anchor our midfield and create the platform for players like Iwobi and Iheanacho to thrive.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: Belgium. They’ve been everyone’s ‘dark horses’ for the last few tournaments but I think this is the tournament that they finally pull it all together. They’ve got quality all through the squad and with the incredible season Kevin de Bruyne has just had along with the undeniable talent of Eden Hazard, I believe they can go all the way.

Which group game are you most nervous about: Argentina.

Realistically how far will Nigeria go: Round of 16.

 

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