World Cup 2018 Preview – Groups C & D

Note: The tournament kicks off on 6/14, so for the last year I include games from 6/14/17 to present

Group C

The Teams

 France (FIFA Rank: 7th, 6-2-1 in last year)
 Australia (FIFA Rank: 36th, 4-4-3 in last year)
 Peru (FIFA Rank: 11th, 6-3-0 in last year)
 Denmark (FIFA Rank: 12th, 6-4-0 in last year)

The Schedule (All times Eastern)

France vs Australia – 6 AM on 6/16, FS1
Peru vs Denmark – 12 PM on 6/16, FS1
Denmark vs Australia – 8 AM on 6/21, FS1
France vs Peru – 11 AM on 6/21, Fox
Denmark vs France – 10 AM on 6/26, TBD (Fox or FS1)
Australia vs Peru – 10 AM on 6/26, TBD (Fox or FS1)

Preview/Picks

Group C may be the best in the tournament as 3 of the top 12 nations in the world were placed in this one group: Denmark, France, and Peru. France will be the clear favorite to win the group, and the other squad to advance will likely be determined on the opening day of play for the group, 6/16, as Denmark will face Paolo Guerrero and Peru. These two teams are separated by just one spot in the FIFA Rankings, and that match should be a barnburner, both squads haven’t lost a match in over a year and a half. As for Austalia, the Socceroos seem like a longshot to make it out of the group stage. France may be the clear favorite, but that does not by any means make them impervious to a potential upset from either the Danish or Peruvian sides, I just believe that skill will win the day for the French. Denmark and Peru would both by dangerous draws for the Group D winner in the knockout stage, but I have to give the edge to Denmark on goal difference. I see Peru beating Denmark on matchday one, then falling to France and drawing with Austalia, leaving the door open for Denmark to beat Australia and draw with France and advance.

 France – 7 points
 Denmark – 4 points
 Peru – 4 points
 Australia – 1 point

Group D

The Teams

 Argentina (FIFA Rank: 5th, 3-3-1 in last year)
 Iceland (FIFA Rank: 22nd, 3-1-4 in last year)
 Croatia (FIFA Rank: 20th, 5-2-3 in last year)
 Nigeria (FIFA Rank: 48th, 8-4-5 in last year)

The Schedule (All times Eastern)

Argentina vs Iceland – 9 AM, 6/16 on Fox
Croatia vs Nigeria – 3 PM, 6/16 on FS1
Argentina vs Croatia – 2 PM, 6/21 on Fox
Nigeria vs Iceland – 11 AM, 6/22 on Fox
Nigeria vs Argentina – 2PM, 6/26 on TBD (Fox/FS1)
Iceland vs Croatia – 2 PM, 6/26 on TBD (Fox/FS1)

Preview/Picks

Of the four groups on the top half of the bracket, this might be the most interesting to me, as I think all four teams in this group have a realistic shot of advancing. Argentina is capable of a run all the way to the finals, and each of the other three wouldn’t feel out of place in the knockout stage either. Argentina, despite being one of the most talented teams in the world, has struggled to put it all together in tournament play, losing to Chile in the Copa America Finals in 2015 and 2017, both on penalties, as well as losing 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup Finals against Germany. Maybe this will finally be the year. Iceland is one of the best stories in sports as the smallest country to ever make the World Cup. Croatia is one of the most up and down nations in world football, they lost to Estonia but beat Spain at points in the past two years. Finally, Nigeria returns to the world stage for the third straight cycle. The Super Eagles beat projected group winner Argentina 4-2 in November (although Argentina was without Messi). This may be the most competitive battle to advance in the tournament.

 Argentina – 5 points
 Croatia – 5 points
 Nigeria – 3 points
 Iceland – 1 point

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