The Super Eagles Return to The Big Stage
Current FIFA Ranking: 48
Previous World Cup appearances: 5 – 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014
Best World Cup result: Last 16 – 1994, 1998, 2014
June 16 vs Croatia
June 22 vs Iceland
June 26 vs Argentina
Captain: John Obi Mikel
Star Player: Victor Moses
Head coach: Gernot Rohr
Nigeria’s Super Eagles were the first African team to qualify for the World Cup in Russia in emphatic fashion; pulling off an unbeaten run against strong competition from Cameroon, Zambia and Algeria. Winning four games and drawing two, scoring 12 goals and conceding just 4, the Nigerian side, which is highly rated by its fans at home, qualified with a game to spare. Nigeria started the group stage matches with a 2–1 win over Zambia in Ndola and defeated Algeria 3–1 in their second match at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
Nigeria have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on five occasions, the first being in 1994 where they reached the second round. They are three time Africa Cup of Nations winners, with their last title in 2013, after defeating Burkina Faso in the final. In April 1994, the Super Eagles was ranked 5th in the FIFA rankings, the highest FIFA ranking position ever achieved by an African football team. Throughout history, the team has qualified for six of the last seven FIFA World Cups (as of 2018), missing only the 2006 World Cup hosted in Germany, and have reached the round of 16 three times. They were the only African team to qualify for both the 2014 and 2018 tournaments.
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Uzoho
Defenders: William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem, Abdullahi Shehu, Elderson Echiejile, Tyronne Ebueh
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi, John Ogu, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Joel Obi
Forwards: Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Simeon Nwankwo
Croatia Aiming to Break New Ground in Russia
Current FIFA Ranking: 20
Previous World Cup appearances: 4 – 1998, 2002, 2006, 2014
Best World Cup result: Third place – 1998
June 16 vs Nigeria
June 21 vs Argentina
June 26 vs Iceland
Captain: Luka Modric
Star Player: Luka Modric
Head coach: Zlatko Dalic
Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1
Croatia qualified for the 2018 World Cup on by holding Greece to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off in Piraeus for a 4-1 win on aggregate.
Croatia have appeared in the finals of the FIFA World Cup on four occasions (in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2014) since gaining independence in 1991. Before that, from 1930 to 1990 Croatia was part of Yugoslavia.
Since becoming an independent nation in the early 1990s, Croatia have been a mainstay in international tournaments, only once missing out on World Cup qualification.
However, they advanced to the knockout stages just once too, and will be hoping that the current crop of players can replicate the form of their 1998 ‘Golden Generation’ that reached the semi-finals.
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic, Lovre Kalinic, Dominik Livakovic
Defenders: Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Josip Pivaric, Tin Jedvaj, Duje Caleta-Car
Midfielders: Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Milan Badelj, Marcelo Brozovic, Filip Bradaric
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Andrej Kramaric, Marko Pjaca, Ante Rebic
Iceland Is Set to Make Its Debut at FIFA’18
Current FIFA Ranking: 22
Previous World Cup appearances: Debut
Best World Cup result: N/A
June 16 vs Argentina
June 22 vs Nigeria
June 26 vs Croatia
Captain: Aron Gunnarsson
Star Player: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Head coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson
Preferred formation: 4-4-2
Following a 2–0 home win over Kosovo in the final round of the qualifiers, Iceland secured their spot in Russia 2018, finishing top of Group 1 by two points over Croatia, who had defeated Iceland in the World Cup play-offs four years earlier.
Iceland qualifies for the finals of a FIFA World Cup for the first time.They directly qualified after securing the first spot in their qualifying group on the final round. This meant that after 12 failed qualification campaigns, Iceland would appear at the World Cup for the first time in their history, and appear at only their second major international tournament, after qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016 two years earlier.
Iceland will also be one of the two smallest nations to reach the World Cup finals, breaking the record set by Trinidad and Tobago. The other is Panama.
Despite being the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup, they are sure to bring their tremendous travelling support, whose trademark ‘Viking Clap’ became a defining image of Euro 2016. Even if they don’t perform well on the pitch, their supporters are guaranteed to enjoy themselves at their second-ever international tournament.
Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram
Defenders: Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson
Midfielders: Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson
Forwards: Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson
Argentina Is One Of The Favourites at Russia’18
Current FIFA Ranking: 5
Previous World Cup appearances: 16 – 1930, 1934, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Best World Cup result: Champions – 1978, 1986
June 16 vs Iceland
June 21 vs Croatia
June 26 vs Nigeria
Captain: Lionel Messi
Star Player: Lionel Messi
Head coach: Jorge Sampaoli
Preferred Formation: 4-4-2
The Argentina captain is the country’s all-time top goalscorer, and delivered one of his best-ever international performances to send them to Russia with Jorge Sampaoli’s side on the brink of a disastrous exit in CONMEBOL qualifying round. Messi scored all three goals in the 3-1 away win against Ecuador to send Argentina through, earning a difficult draw with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D.
Argentina is one of the most successful national football teams in the world, having won 2 World Cups in 1978and 1986. Argentina has been runners up three times in the 1930, 1990 and 2014. The team was present in all but four of the World Cups, being behind only Brazil, Italy and Germany in number of appearances. Argentina has also won the Copa America 14 times, one less than Uruguay. Moreover, Argentina has also won the Confederations Cup and the gold medal at the Olympic football Tournament in 2004 and 2008. Prior to that occasion Argentina had obtained two silver medals in the 1928 and 1996 editions. On other levels of international competition Argentina has won the FIFA U-20 World Cup a record six times.
Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzman, Willy Caballero, Franco Armani
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Rojo, Marcos Acuna, Cristian Ansaldi, Eduardo Salvio
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Gio Lo Celso, Maximiliano Meza
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Cristian Pavon