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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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.