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Soccer World Cup Group D: Round 3 Preview and Betting Picks

| June 25, 2018 12:00 am PDT
Group D Preview Round 3

A lot of people expected Argentina to dominate Group D of the soccer World Cup, but the South Americans only have 1 point after the first two games and have played poorly so far.

Fortunately for them, they still have the chance to progress thanks to the other results in the group. Croatia is already in the last 16 with 6 points.

Nigeria has 3 after beating Iceland, while the Vikings and Argentina have 1 each after the draw between them in the first round.

The question is, can Argentina win against Nigeria? Even if that’s the case, they will possibly face France in the last 16. Can the team realistically hope to beat an opponent like that?

At the same time, if Iceland beats Croatia, the South Americans could win and still go down. Overall, it will be an exciting finale of one of the tightest groups in the World Cup.

Let’s take a look what at we learned so far and what kind of betting options are available in the final 3rd round.

Round 2 Recap and Impressions

I already highlighted Croatia as a team to watch before the World Cup started, and they have proven how good they are already. They virtually won Group C with a game to spare and have dominated Argentina in the second round, winning 3-0.

To be fair to the South Americans, the game was somewhat close until the opening goal in the 53rd minute. Croatia looked a bit more dangerous, but Argentina had chances, too.

Both sides missed opportunities to go in front, and it looked like the first goal would be crucial. That turned out to be the truth, as Croatia cruised to victory after scoring.

Rebic was the guy who broke the deadlock, while Modric and Rakitic finished the job. Those two have been exceptional so far and probably the most impressive part of the Croatian team.

In fact, I believe the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars have formed the best midfield duo in the entire World Cup, at least up to this point. They are controlling the games like no one else.

Both are very good at keeping the ball well and finding chances to create danger instantly. If you add the solid defense and some formidable forward players like Mandzukic, Croatia has been as good as it gets.

Of course, it’s still early days, and there’s no prize for being the best team in the groups of the World Cup. I think the Croatian team knows that and will try to make a hard push. It’s hard to see where the ceiling of this team is, but even the final is not out of the question.

At the same time, Argentina is in a terrible spot. The side absolutely must win against Nigeria in the last round.

The leader of the team, Lionel Messi, has been absolutely demolished by the press. He’s nowhere to be seen so far, and it’s obvious something’s not right.

The pressure of playing for Argentina has often got him, and Messi even retired after losing the Copa America final in 2016.

He’s not the only one underperforming, though, as the other members of the squad and coach Jorge Sampaoli have their share of the blame, too. In fact, there were rumors about a rift between the players and the head coach, but Javier Mascherano denied them.

Whatever the case, Argentina can still qualify with a win against Nigeria, so the dream is alive.

If we know one thing in such tournaments, it’s to not underestimate big teams that have a slow start.

Portugal barely made it out of the group stage in Euro 2016, but then went all the way to win it. If Argentina somehow reaches the last 16, you never know what might happen.

Still, the South American side has to beat Nigeria first. The Super Eagles played a great game against Iceland. They won 2-0 after Ahmed Musa scored twice in the second half.

Honestly, the team looked strong and effective up front. Some of the younger players performed and will be eager to knock out a struggling Argentina side.

As for Iceland, the Vikings tried their typical defensive approach, but it didn’t work this time around. On top of that, star man Gylfi Sigurdsson missed a penalty in the 80th minute of the game, and this could certainly haunt Iceland.

The side will have to find a way to beat Croatia in the last round, which will be a mountain to climb.

It’s worth noting that the most likely winner in Group C will be France, so the second team in Group D will face them in the last 16. This could lead to a mouthwatering clash between France and Argentina.

But let’s take a closer look at the final games and betting options first.

Iceland – Croatia

Here are the main betting markets for this match.

Iceland to Win3.50
Croatia to Win2.25
Under 2.5 Goals1.61
Over 2.5 Goals2.25

One of the big questions for this game is related to Croatia’s approach. The team is in the last 16 and almost certainly will finish first. This would mean avoiding France in the last 16 and facing either Australia or Denmark.

Right now, Croatia has 6 points and a goal difference of 5-0. The only team that could potentially finish above them is Nigeria, but the side has a goal difference of 2-2.

The Africans will have to win against Argentina with something like 3-0 and expect Croatia to lose with 2 goals or more against Iceland. I don’t think that’s a realistic scenario.

This puts Croatia in an interesting spot.

Croatia could easily rest some of the best players and prepare for the next round. I think this will be the case here, as it is the smart move.

Still, the Croatian squad has enough potential to start a solid line-up that could be competitive, even without star players like Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.

As for Iceland, I expect them to play like they always do in major finals. Defend in numbers and try to punish the opponent through set pieces and counter-attacks.

Prediction and Betting Picks

Under normal circumstances, Croatia would be the easy pick in this match. The Balkan side has the much better players, and we’ve all seen that in the first two rounds of this Group D.

And yet, the questionable motivation of the side and the potential changes in the starting eleven make it harder to pick them to win, even if the price of 2.25 is quite juicy.

Still, I think the Croatian team will create some chances. At the same time, Iceland will have to push and find a winner. This is the only chance to progress.

The game should be more open than the odds for over 2.5 goals suggest. 2.25 seems too high for this market, and this is my final decision. Something like 2-1 for either team seems like a plausible result.

PICKOver 2.5 Goals2.25

Nigeria – Argentina

Here are the main betting odds for the second Group D game.

Nigeria to Win6.50
Argentina to Win1.55
Under 2.5 Goals1.80
Over 2.5 Goals2.0

Argentina has its back against the wall, and many believe this is the end of the road for the team. Still, this very same sentence would’ve been completely true 2 games before the qualifying for this World Cup ended.

And yet, some Messi magic and a bit of luck in the other games were enough for Argentina to book a place in Russia.

The question is, can they do it again? Can Lionel Messi push one more time and drag the team to the last 16?

The potential is certainly there, but Argentina has failed to capitalize so far.

If Argentina once again fails to deliver a solid performance, the hungry Nigerian team will certainly be ready to take full advantage.

The Africans have a great chance to actually reach the last 16, and a draw here would most likely be enough for them. The likes of Iwobi, Musa, and Iheanacho are backed by more experienced players like John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses.

It’s a group of players that works hard and has plenty of talent. Their pace and precision in the final third could cause all sorts of troubles for Argentina.

Prediction and Betting Picks

The bookies and most people obviously expect Argentina to push hard and win this game. While I agree that the South Americans have a good chance to beat Nigeria, the odds are absolutely pathetic.

The performance of both teams is not reflected properly. I assume the reason is that a ton of people have actually backed Argentina to win, mostly because they are much stronger on paper and have Lionel Messi.

However, the price for Nigeria +1 Asian Handicap is 1.95, which is absolutely insane. It brings a profit if the Africans win or draw. At the same time, even a loss with one goal difference would be a push. I simply can’t overlook this one.

If you feel adventurous, taking Nigeria to straight-up win this match at 6.50 is a nice opportunity as well. I believe such a price contains massive value because Argentina is the public bet, and millions of casual bettors will back them.

PICKNigeria + 1 Asian Handicap1.95

BetVictor Million Pound Bet

It’s time to go for the BetVictor Million Pound Bet. This is what I intend to pick.

  • Nigeria to Win 2-0
  • Kelechi Iheanacho to Score 1+ Goals
  • Argentina Over 3.5 Cards
  • Argentina Over 8.5 Corners
  • Match to Be Drawn in the 1st Half

I can see Nigeria winning this match, and the starting price for that to happen is perfect for this BetVictor promo.

If the Nigerians are in front, they could easily catch Argentina on the counter at some point.

At the same time, I expect some frustration, which will lead to cards for the South American team. Since they should be having more of the ball and pushing, they could win plenty of corners.

Final Words

Are we going to watch one of the favorites crash in the group stage of the soccer World Cup? Can Lionel Messi find his magic once again? How far could Croatia go in this tournament?

I believe these are the big questions here. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Good luck!

Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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