Soccer

Messi still in search of elusive World Cup title, while a Cinderella looks to shock world

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has just one thing missing from his resume  — a World Cup trophy. His team will have to survive the Group of Death  — Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria  — in the opening round of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has just one thing missing from his resume — a World Cup trophy. His team will have to survive the Group of Death — Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria — in the opening round of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. AP

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World Cup group previews

Miami Herald soccer writer Michelle Kaufman breaks down each group in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and selects her top two teams that will advance out of the group stage.

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The 2018 World Cup opens in less than a month, June 14, in Moscow. It remains to be seen who emerges the winner, but one thing is hard to dispute — Group D is an extremely tricky group and is being called the Group of Death by many experts. Here's why..

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Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain, left, and Bologna's Ibrahima Mbaye vie for the ball during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Bologna at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 5, 2018 (Alessandro Di Marco/ANSA via AP)

Argentina: Is this the year that Lionel Messi finally adds a World Cup trophy to his otherwise-spectacular resume? The Albiceleste lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals to Chile. It is hard to imagine a team with Messi, Sergio Aguerro, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain won’t be in the hunt for the Cup.

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Real Madrid's Luka Modric, right, heads the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, dubbed 'El Clasico', at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Croatia: The Croatian midfield is scary with Real Madrid teammates Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona) and Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan). Mario Mandzukic of Juventus is the goal-scorer. Croatia finished third at the 1998 World Cup.

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Iceland's captain Aron Gunnarsson celebrates at the end of the World Cup Group I qualifying soccer match between Iceland and Kosovo in Reykjavik, Iceland, Monday Oct. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Brynjar Gunnarsson).

Iceland: Who can forget the Thunder Clap cheer from the 2016 European Championships? Iceland, (pop. 300,000) shocked England, and the world, and will be a fan favorite during this World Cup. Watch for Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his sides fourth goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Burnley at Emirates Stadium on May 6, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Nigeria: The Super Eagles have talent, but have never advanced past the Round of 16. It is unlikely that will change this summer. Key players are Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi and Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho.

Prediction: Argentina wins the group, Croatia finishes second, Iceland warms fans’ hearts.

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