Group D Squads Confirmed, Big Stars Miss Out
Group D Squads Confirmed, Big Stars Miss Out
Next up in our 2018 FIFA World Cup preview is Group D, in which Lionel Messi's Argentina have been drawn against tough opposition. Several big stars were left out of the teams in this group, which many consider to be the "Group of Death"!
Click through the gallery above to see the biggest Argentine stars who were not selected fro Russia 2018.
Group D will begin on Saturday afternoon, when Argentina take on Iceland, who proved at the 2016 European Championship that they are a football country to be taken seriously. With a population of just 348 580, Iceland, who are ranked 22nd in the world, are the smallest nation at the World Cup in 2018.
Nigeria, ranked 48th in the latest FIFA rankings, is certainly one of the stronger African nations travelling to Russia, and heading into Group D, the Super Eagles can draw can great inspiration from their 4-2 friendly win over Argentina in November 2017. The round of 16 is the furthest Nigeria have gone at the World Cup, doing so three times in their history.
Gernot Rohr's side will take on Croatia in their opening clash, a match that could go either way. Captained by Luka Modric, Croatia have a well-rounded squad, but have failed to impress at recent major tournaments.
Their finish in 1998 was the best the Croats ever did at the World Cup, having reached the semi-final stage in France. Croatia, who have been knocked out at the group stage of the past three World Cups they have competed in, are ranked 20th in the world.
While Argentina are considered by many to be the favourites for this group, their form heading into the tournament has not been great. The fifth-ranked Albiceleste were on the brink of failing to qualify for the World Cup, but were rescued in their final qualifying game by a Messi hat-trick. The 2014 finalists will be looking to do one better in Russia, but injuries to the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Sergio Romero have hurt their chances.
First round of fixtures
16 June, 15:00 – Argentina vs Iceland
16 June, 20:00 – Croatia vs Nigeria
Full squad listings
Goalkeepers: Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres UANL)
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax Amsterdam), Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino)
Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di Maria, Giovani Lo Celso (both Paris St-Germain), Enzo Perez (River Plate), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala (both Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo)
Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka)
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson (Randers FC), Runar Alex Runarsson (FC Nordsjaelland), Frederik Schram (FC Roskilde)
Defenders: Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Ari Freyr Skulason (K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen), Birkir Mar Saevarsson (Hammarby), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (FC Rostov), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson (Maccabi Haifa), Ragnar Sigurdsson (FC Rostov)
Midfielders: Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Arnor Ingvi Traustason (Malmo FF), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Olafur Ingi Skulason (Kardemir Karabukspor), Rurik Gislason (FC Nurnberg), Samuel Fridjonsson (Valerenga), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City)
Forwards: Alfred Finnbogason (FC Augsburg), Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson (FC Rostov), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV Eindhoven)
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United)
Defenders: William Troost-Ekong, Abdullahi Shehu (both Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Ado Den Haag), Elderson Echiejile (Cercle Brugge KSV), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes FC), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa)
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Tianjin Teda), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be'er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino, Italy)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone)
Which two teams do you think will advance from Group D? Have your say in the comments section below.