World Cup 2018: Group D Preview (Croatia, Nigeria)

Croatia

Current FIFA ranking: 18

World Cup appearance: 5th time in 2018

World Cup 2014: Group Stage

World Cup 2018: Group D
Source: Twitter

When people start to talk about World Cup and Croatia altogether, then they must have to gossip about the 1998 World Cup performance of the Croats. They went on to play the France World Cup for the first time as an Independent nation in 1998, although they were a part of Yugoslavia in the early days. That was their first world cup finals after being independent in 1991 and they reached the semi and became the third in that tournament. Though they took part in three more World Cups, they were not even close to that type of performance.

This has become a common scenario for the European qualifiers that Croatia is confirming their World Cup finals after winning the playoffs. This year, Croatia confirmed the World Cup by defeating Greece 4-1 in the two-match playoffs after being the number 2 from I-Group of Europe.

Everyone must confess that this Croatia team is full of stars. They have big names in the midfield like Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s and Ivan Rakitic. And at the attack, there are stars like Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic, who are capable enough to take a hard test on any team’s defense. The responsibility of the defense belongs to veterans like Dejan Lovren and Sime Vrsaljko, so it has to be said that the defense of Croatia is very strong.

World Cup 2018 Croatia
Source: FIFA.com

Croatia World Cup Squad

Final 23-man squad –

Coach: Zlatko Dalic

GOALKEEPERS: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb).

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).

However, the Croats were as strong as now in the Brazil World Cup, but due to failures in the field performance, they were dropped from the group stage. So, only time can say whether they will be able to bring back the memory now say that the 20 years before France can bring back the memory of the World Cup it will be able to say so.

Nigeria

Current FIFA ranking:

World Cup appearance: 5th time in 2018

World Cup 2014: Group Stage

World Cup 2018 Nigeria
Source: The Government and Business Journal

Africa’s ‘Super Eagle’ Nigeria is the only African team who took part at Brazil World Cup as well. In fact, after their inaugural World Cup appearance in 1994, Nigeria is the most consistent African team in the World Cup finals. They had a regular presence in all the rest of the world except the 2006 Germany World Cup.

They have confirmed the World Cup tickets to Russia after topping most difficult group B in the African region. It would be unfair to say that they just confirmed the ticket. On their way to Russia, they convincingly beat the African Nations Cup champions Zambia and Cameroon as well. So the spectators are expecting little higher from them.

Chelsea’s Victor Moses as the main star of the Nigerian team’s attack division Experienced midfielder Mikel John Obi will be there to assist him. In the defense, there are comparatively experienced defenders like Leon Balogun and Bryan Idowu. Gernot Rohr who was surprisingly appointed as coach of the Nigerian national team in 2016, had enough time to build a strong team in the last two years.

victor moses nigeria
Source: Daily Post Nigeria

Nigeria World Cup Squad

Final 23-man squad –

Coach: Gernot Rohr

GOALKEEPERS: Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United).

DEFENDERS: William Troost-Ekong and Abdullahi Shehu (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 Beer 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).

So far no African team has reached the top four in World Cup history. As being a part of group D (the group of death) It’s really hard to say that Nigeria will be able to fill this kind of lacking. Let’s see what future is holding for us.

The betting rate for Croatia vs Nigeria match on June 16 is 1.65 for Croatia and 5.50 for Nigeria’s Victory.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,