Photo courtesy of USA Today
By: Matt Lisoski
Oh boy, group D. This one has me scratching my head. Some may say it is the group of death and I may have to agree. The obvious team that pops of the sheet is Argentina with none other than Lionel Messi. The next team in this group that has a legitimate chance of making it out is Croatia. Croatia has a very solid team that is built around its midfield prowess. The last team that I think has a real chance to make it out of this group is Iceland. Iceland may be the team I root for in this competition. It is just so hard not to. The way they win is through telepathic chemistry and fantastic teamwork. Their coach, Heimir Hallgrimsson has them deeply committed to a certain playstyle and they do it well. You will not see and flashy plays from this team, but they have been an underdog for a while and the country that only has a population of 338,000 is starting to turn heads. The team that I do not see getting out of this group is Nigeria. This is nothing against the team Nigeria put together because if they were put into some other weaker groups, they could make it to the round of 16. However, that is not the case.
Now, let’s get down to the brass tacks of this blog. Who comes out victorious? Argentina, for me, is in no matter which way you cut the cake. The team Argentina put together for this tournament is a very good one. However, a lot of that talent is in the attacking position. Argentina has, without a doubt, the best striker group in this tournament with the likes of Messi, Aguero, Dybala and Higuain. The problem is I do not think you can play all of them. None the less, Argentina is most likely going to finish top of the group because of the solid midfield and out of this world attacking play. This is where the group gets tricky. Iceland or Croatia. I think most will probably pick Croatia, but I am NOT most people. I think Iceland will be the second team to come out of this group. Iceland shocked England two years ago in the Euros in the round of 16 and I think they will do it against Croatia too. I really do not think it will be a shock either. Iceland is considered a top 25 country in the world at the beautiful game. I understand Croatia has a midfield that consists of Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic, and forwards like Mandzukic and Perisic. This still does not sway me away from the way this Icelnad team plays. I firmly believe the two teams to come out of this group will be Argentina and Iceland.
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