Russia 2018 may be the last chance that Lionel Messi will be able to win the World Cup with Argentina as he turns 31 in July, and though this national team may be an obvious to make it out of their group easily, the likes of Croatia and Nigeria could pull upsets.
Argentina had to rely on Messi to score a hat-trick in their recent friendly fixture against Haiti, and will hope that they won't have to rely too much on their star man – as they have in the past.
Goal will take a look at the rundown of the Group D fixtures ahead of the June start, as well as what to expect from each team and more.
World Cup 2018 - Group D Fixtures
|June 16||Argentina 1-1 Iceland||2pm UK / 9am US ET||Otkrytie Arena, Moscow|
|June 16||Croatia 2-0 Nigeria||8pm UK / 3pm US ET||Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad|
|June 21||Argentina 0-3 Croatia||7pm UK / 2pm US ET||Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod|
|June 22||Nigeria 2-0 Iceland||4pm UK / 11am US ET||Volgograd Arena, Volgograd|
|June 26||Iceland 1-2 Croatia||7pm UK / 2pm US ET||Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don|
|June 26||Nigeria 1-2 Argentina||3pm UK / 10am US ET||Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg|
Argentina kicked off Group D with a 1-1 draw against UEFA underdogs Iceland, who equalised shortly after Sergio Aguero's opener. Lionel Messi missed a penalty in the second half as Jorge Sampaoli's team had to settle for a point.
Croatia easily swept aside a toothless Nigeria side in Kaliningrad, with an own goal and a Luka Modric penalty propelling them top of the table heading into round two of matches.
Messi was in for more frustration in the second match. He failed to make his mark against Croatia, who showed none of the defensive frailties on display for Argentina.
A Willy Caballero howler gifting Ante Rebic the first goal midway through the second half, a calmly taken volley, before Luka Modric finished off the South Americans with a fantastic effort from outside the box. Ivan Rakitic scored in stoppage time to put sparkle on the scoreline, which finished 3-0.
Argentina's hopes were kept alive, however, after Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0 after a brace scored by Ahmed Musa. Nigeria showed ruthlessness and character following the break and earned a well-deserved three points against the side that denied Argentina glory.
It was a dramatic end to the final day of Group D as Argentina sealed a late winner at the end of regular time to win 2-1 against Nigeria, who were trailing 1-0 but equalised after a penalty was awarded, and finishing second in their group.
Croatia headed into their final fixture having secured the top spot in the group but managed to also scrape a late 2-1 win against opponents Iceland, who were eliminated.
World Cup 2018 - Group D Table Standings
World Cup 2018 - Group D Squads
Argentina's 23-man squad: Nahuel Guzman, Willy Caballero, Franco Armani; Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Rojo, Marcos Acuna, Cristian Ansaldi, Eduardo Salvio; Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Manuel Lanzini, Gio Lo Celso, Maximiliano Meza; Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Cristian Pavon
Iceland's 23-man squad: Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson
Croatia's 23-man squad: Danijel Subasic, Lovre Kalinic, Dominik Livakovic; Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Josip Pivaric, Tin Jedvaj, Matej Mitrovic, Duje Caleta-Car, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Milan Badelj, Marcelo Brozovic, Filip Bradaric; Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Andrej Kramaric, Marko Pjaca, Ante Rebic
Nigeria's 23-man squad: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Uzoho, Dele Ajiboye; William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Olaoluwa Aina, Kenneth Omeruo, Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem, Abdullahi Shehu, Elderson Echiejile, Tyronne Ebuehi, Stephen Eze, John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi, John Ogu, Wilfred Ndidi, Uche Agbo, Oghenekaro Etebo, Joel Obi; Mikel Agu; Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Junior Lokosa, Simeon Nwankwo