WorldCupAcca Confirmed Squad:
Keepers: N. Guzman, W. Caballero, F. Armani
Defence: G. Mercado, C. Ansaldi, N. Otamendi, F. Fazio, M. Rojo, N. Tagliafico, M. Acuna
Midfield: J. Mascherano, E. Salvio, L. Biglia, G. Lo Celso, E. Banega, M. Lanzini, M. Meza, A. Di Maria, C. Pavon
Forward: L. Messi, P. Dybala, G. Higuain, S. Aguero
Winners in 1978 & 1986 Argentina have been regular contenders throughout World Cup history. In 16 previous tournaments they have reached the semi final 5 times, winning all of them to go on to reach the final itself, most recently in 2014.
They have made at least the quarters in 4 of the last 5 tournaments only failing to do so in 2002 when they exited in the group stages.
Though Argentina finished third in CONMEBOL qualifying, they made incredibly hard work of it. Unexpected defeats at home against Ecuador and Paraguay, a draw against Venezuela, a 3-0 loss when visiting Brazil.
They also had three different managers through the campaign, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, Edgardo Bauza and finally Jorge Sampaoli. As well as this, Lionel Messi’s absence from several matches confirmed once more that the team relies unconditionally on his participation. In fact, it wasn’t until the Barcelona star’s hat trick in the final qualifier against Ecuador in Quito that Argentina finally secured qualification.
Recent friendlies haven’t been the best for Argentina, in November they managed a 1-0 win in Moscow over this years hosts, Russia, Sergio Aguero scoring the winner 5 minutes from the end. This was followed up losing 4-2 to Nigeria in Krasnodar.
In their 3 matches in 2018 they beat Italy 2-0 and Haiti 4-0, with Lionel Messi getting another hat trick for his country here but sandwiched between those wins was the ignanamous 6-1 defeat to Spain.
WorldCupAcca The Squad:
If ever there was a team begging to play in a 2-4-4 formation, Mauro Icardi must hate being Argentinian.
The obvious strength for Argentina is the attacking talents they have in abundance but the other areas of the squad really let them down though, there will also be question marks over their mentality coming into the tournament as well, having lost 3 major finals on the spin and it’s hard to see them as genuine contenders this year.
Sergio Romero would ordinarily be first choice but has missed the cut due to recently undergoing surgery, meaning Willy Caballero would most likely start against Iceland on June 16th, it’s a bad sign for a country of this stature when their possible first choice goalkeepers are both back-ups for club teams and play very little football for most of the season.
Form and fitness will be a concern in other areas of the team as well, previously Marcos Rojo and Ramiro Funes Mori were irremovable in defence but have both been sidelined for extended periods.
With this in mind, the most likely starting back four will consist of Gabriel Mercado & Nicolas Tagliafico in the fullback positions, while Federico Fazio will partner Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi who has had an excellent season for the English champions.
Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia will start as the holding midfielders, though the latter is another player who has not played a huge amount of football this year with AC Milan. Angel Di Maria and Cristian Pavon will play in the wide areas with Lionel Messi playing as a number 10, most likely behind Sergio Aguero – though he is another key player not to have played all that much recently.
Even with this attacking line up they still have the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Ever Banega. Giovani Lo Celso & Paulo Dybala in reserve – the attacking depth is different gravy but as I’ve said already the other areas of the team are too light to see them as genuine contenders.
WorldCupAcca The Group:
While I still feel Argentina will win Group D it may not be plain sailing.
Croatia are capable of causing any side problems on their day and possess some fine players in the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and of course Luka Modric in midfield.
Add Mario Mandzukic up front who has proven himself to be a real handful for many top European teams at club level during his spells with Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid & Juventus. Though they will most likely have to settle for second place in this group they could give the Argentines a run for their money.
Nigeria are an interesting proposition as well, comfortably winning their qualifying group which also featured Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria – the only game they “lost” was for fielding an ineligible player away to Algeria, the match actually finished 1-1 but Algeria were later awarded a 3-0 victory.
They also beat Argentina 4-2 in a recent friendly and made a very good showing in the second half of their match against England at Wembley in their most recent friendly, while they look a little suspect at the back they can cause problems going forward.
World Cup debutants Iceland make up the group and will be hoping to show a similar showing to their fantastic display 2 years ago at Euro 2016. They won what was on paper a very tight qualifying group with the likes of Turkey, Ukraine and even Croatia themselves to make the tournament this time round.
It’s very unlikely they will be able to make it out of this group but here’s to hoping for some more Viking Thunder Claps.
WorldCupAcca Betting Tips:
World Cup Group D Fixtures / Results
|Spartak Stadium – June 16, 2018 4:00 pm|
|Kaliningrad – June 16, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Nizhny Novgorod – June 21, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Volgograd – June 22, 2018 6:00 pm|
|Saint Petersburg – June 26, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Rostov-on-Don – June 26, 2018 9:00 pm|
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