To start Group D off, it was Argentina, who are highly favored to win the World Cup this year, facing off against Iceland. Argentina started the match all guns ablaze and attacked like they know how to, collectively. As expected, it was Argentina’s Sergio Aguero who scored his 1st World Cup goal in the 19th minute to give “La Albiceleste” the much deserved lead early on.
As we should know by know as spectators of this magnificent event, teams who are highly favored perform mediocrely and the fact that a team is ranked highly in the FIFA standings is thrown out the window. With that being said, Iceland was able to score their first and only FIFA World Cup goal only 5 minutes after Argentina’s.
Iceland’s goal was the result of sloppy goalkeeping in Caballero’s (Argentinian Goalkeeper) part and an unlucky bounce off his hands served it up for Finnbogason to tap right into the back of the net. Argentina had a great amount of chances and missed opportunities but were not able to convert in the end.
Iceland, with their physicality and size advantage over Argentina, remained firm in their defensive shape and did not allow Argentina to gain the upper hand. With their early goal, and a saved penalty taken by Messi in the 64th minute, this match was an upset to upset all the rest. At the end of the match, both teams were able to snag a point, with the result of 1-1 all.
In the following Group D matchup, it was 20th ranked Croatia set to play against 48th ranked Nigeria. With the upsets and surprises in the World Cup, this match was a palate cleanser in that the final score was actually a result you would expect. Croatia seemed to be the only team on either side to display any true offense which generated great looks on goal and close calls for the Nigerian keeper.
Finally, in the 33rd minute, with a corner kick taken by the best midfield player in the world, Luka Modric, Croatia was able to head it into the back of the net and take the lead over the “Super Eagles.” This goal would later be ruled an own goal by Nigeria but a goal nonetheless and it provided the edge Croatia was looking for to apply even more pressure on Nigeria.
Things only seemed to get worse for Nigeria. The African side was doing everything in their power to contain a fully lethal and star studded Croatia. A full embrace on Mandzukic in the box led to a penalty for Croatia’s Modric to take, which he converted to give Croatia a 2-0 lead. The result would remain the same up until Full Time.
Nigeria holds the youngest squad in the World Cup and it was definitely evident in this match. Croatia’s star power and experience proved to be too much for Nigeria’s inexperience and youth. In particular, Nigeria struggled with set pieces like corner kicks, which generated both of Croatia’s goals. Croatia was able to grab all 3 points at the end of this match and are looking like a tough matchup for Argentina this Thursday in the next Group D matchup.
Current Group D Standings:
Croatia: 3 points, +2 goal differential
Iceland: 1 point, 0 goal differential
Argentina: 1 point, 0 goal differential
Nigeria: 0 points, -2 goal differential