9th Jun 2018 | World Cup
Group D For Danger
Having arguably the best player in the world didn't stop Argentina slipping up routinely in qualifying and since. All their opponents in the first round are dangerous so it's worth backing against the favourites here.
Although no obvious ‘Group of Death’ emerged when the draw was made, Group D can make a case to be just that. Mighty Argentina could crash out in round one at best odds of 11/2 with Ladbrokes.
Despite the presence of ‘greatest of all time’ candidate Messi, the South Americans’ weaknesses have been there for all to see in recent times. Argentina laboured through their qualification section, losing not only to Brazil but Paraguay and Bolivia too.
Even after Messi bailed them out, Sampaoli’s boys swiftly lost 4-2 to Nigeria last November - now they face the Africans again when it really counts. But it was the 6-1 thumping at the hands of Spain in March which really undermined confidence in the squad, especially defensively.
The other Group D sides, Croatia and Iceland, are also capable of exposing Argentina. The Croats have the individual quality to trouble any team on their day; Modric, Rakitic, Perisic and Mandzukic are top class performers. Iceland don’t have that quality in their personnel yet they still qualified ahead of Croatia and knocked out Turkey and Ukraine in one of the toughest sections.
In 2014 the big names who exited in round 1 included Spain, Italy and Portugal so it does happen and Argentina are more vulnerable than most.
Odds correct at time of publishing: 13:58 9th Jun, 2018 but subject to change