FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Analysis & Predictions
Many would argue Group D is a “Group of Death”. Argentina saved by the legend Lionel Messi as he scored a hat-trick in the final encounter of the qualifying stage against Ecuador in a must-win encounter. Argentina has not been the most consistent sides in the recent times, and definitely need to improve in order to make a huge impact on the World Cup like 2014. The European surprise package Iceland created history by qualifying as the least populated country ever. Iceland would certainly be an interesting team to watch out for, as they defeated teams like Croatia, Turkey and England in the recent past. Croatia would certainly feel they have what it takes to reach the next round. With the individual raw talent which Croatia possesses it would be difficult for other teams to overcome them. Nigeria is possibly the most consistent team appearing in the World Cup from the African region, and has been placed with Argentina for the fifth time. Surely Argentina would be the favorites to proceed from Group D, but all three sides can pose a serious threat to them with the Croats being the most dangerous out of the trio.
Key Fixtures: Croatia V Nigeria – 16 Jun 2018, Argentina V Croatia – 21 Jun 2018
Predictions: Argentina, Croatia
Brazil was the first team to qualify for the World Cup (after hosts Russia). With twelve wins and five draws in the most difficult confederation, Brazil has sent a strong statement that they mean business and even after qualifying they showed their extreme hard work and dedication. All opponents would fear drawing Brazil in the their group. Both Switzerland and Serbia are equally poised in the contention for the next round. Switzerland (after winning nine of ten fixtures, losing on goal difference to Portugal) qualified via play-offs breaking Northern Irish hearts in the process. On the other hand, Serbia had an impressive run in the qualification overcoming the likes of Rep. of Ireland, Wales and Austria. 2014 quarter finalists, Costa Rica, led by captain and forward Bryan Ruiz, were also splendid in their campaign finishing second in the CONCACAF Qualification. It would be a fatal mistake to conclude an easy team in this group as we have witnessed what happened when Costa Rica was taken lightly in a group comprising of Italy, Uruguay and England at the 2014 World Cup. Backing Brazil to go past as group leaders, with second position slightly inclined towards the Swiss.
Key Fixtures: Switzerland V Serbia – 22 Jun 2018, Switzerland V Costa Rica – 27 Jun 2018
Predictions: Brazil, Switzerland
Germans were ruthless in their title defense. With ten convincing victories in as many fixtures proving the supremacy of the mighty Germans. The Confederations Cup win earlier in the year with a relatively younger side definitely boosts a lot of talent they possess. Mexico quite comfortably qualified from the CONCACAF region as the table toppers. Moreover, with the inclusion of Sweden the group became very interesting. Sweden came past Netherlands in the group stages, and beat Italy in the play-off to earn themselves a much deserved spot in the final 32. South Korea would probably face the heat against three heavy weights in the group. Sweden-Mexico tie promises to be an absolute thriller, with the winner almost guaranteed a spot in the next round.
Key Fixtures: Sweden V Mexico – 23 Jun 2018