World Cup Group D may not be “D for Death” but it is certainly one of the more exciting of the eight groups at the 2018 World Cup. Here we take a closer look at the big games and latest odds and offer up some betting tips on the various group markets.
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Group D features Argentina, who finished third in South American qualifying, as well as Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria. Iceland are making their first ever appearance at the finals and surprised many by following up a superb Euro 2016 by topping qualifying Group I (ahead of the likes of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey). The Croats got past Greece in the play-offs to book their fifth World Cup finals place. Nigeria topped Group B ahead of Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria and this will be their sixth appearance in the finals.
Argentina are currently fifth in FIFA’s rankings, with Croatia 18th, Iceland 22nd and Nigeria 47th. The four sides are probably closer than those rankings suggest, however, and there is no doubt that all four will feel they can make it out of Group D.
Read on, as we highlight the key fixtures, take a closer look at different betting markets and bring you the latest odds – as well as a betting tip or two.
Group D World Cup Betting Tip
Croatia to win the group – 11/4 with Coral
Preview, Analysis and Odds
It will surprise few to see that Lionel Messi and co are the bookies’ favourites to top Group D. Argentina have a great World Cup pedigree and will hope to win the competition for the third time in this their 17th appearance. They are, as said, ranked fifth in the world and have the player many experts believe to be the greatest that has ever lived.
However, for a long time La Albiceleste have underperformed. They are frequently less than the sum of their parts and both of their World Cup victories have come on home soil. As well as Messi, they boast players of the class of Di Maria, Aguero, Higuain, Dybala and Icardi. They really do have an embarrassment of attacking options. However, can they perform as a team? Can they thrive if Messi is ineffectual? Do they have a good enough defence?
The bookies make them fifth favourites to go all the way. Many would love Messi to finally get his hands on the biggest prize of them all but we have to feel that odds of 10/1 (BetVictor) are a shade short. Argentina are odds-on to win the group, priced at 4/6 (Betfair) but we have to take them on at those odds given how average they were in qualifying.
Croatia are priced at 11/4 to win Group D and we think that offers really good value. The Croats hardly covered themselves in glory in qualification either but we think the spirit within their group is better. They also have some genuine world class performers and a midfield that can boast players such as Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic. With Mario Mandzukic the man on the end of service from those creative talents, Croatia will always be a threat.
They have a good blend of youth and experience and many have played at multiple major championships. They defend with steel, determination and commitment and whilst we don’t deny that Argentina deserve to be favourites, the odds make Croatia the value pick. 4/6 for a side with as many questions against it as Argentina is just too short, whilst 11/4 for Modic and co is top value.
Of course, some will argue that Iceland offer the best value of the lot. They are rated a 16/1 shot by BetVictor to top Group D. Considering they bested Croatia in UEFA qualifying to make it here, we can’t wholly discount them. We don’t predict many goals in this group and Iceland could somehow finish top of the pile but ultimately we expect them to be outclassed, whilst their lack of experience could also show.
Nigeria are rated as much more likely to qualify than Iceland. The Super Eagles are priced at 10/1 with Ladbrokes to top the group. They are a 13/5 (also Ladbrokes) shot to qualify but ultimately we think they will do well to finish above Iceland and manage third. You can back them at odds of 19/10 to do that, or at 7/5 to finish bottom of Group D.
Key Fixtures in Group D
The first game of Group D is Argentina v Iceland, with Croatia v Nigeria later the same day. Argentina are priced at just 39/100 for the win but we think that could end in a draw at 15/4. We fancy Croatia to beat the Super Eagles though, with 19/20 solid value.
Probably the key game, if the odds are to be believed, will be on the 21st June, when Argentina and Croatia battle it out. That game takes place in Nizhny Novgorod and Messi and co are currently odds-on but again we feel they are too short. Argentina’s prolonged World Cup involvement could be in jeopardy after this one, as we think they will draw again. The stalemate in that key game is good value at odds of 45/17 with Unibet.
The final round of games sees Argentina play Nigeria and Croatia and Iceland battle it out. Argentina should get the win and we also think Croatia will manage to get the result they need to top the group.
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