Argentina were picked to top the table in most World Cup 2018 Group D predictions but Croatia are slight favourites to prevail after the first round of fixtures.
The Blazers beat a disappointing Nigeria side 2-0 in Kaliningrad and were cut to 9/10 to finish at the summit as a result.
La Albiceleste could only manage a 1-1 draw with Iceland after Lionel Messi missed a penalty and were eased out to 5/4.
We’ve already posted our World Cup 2018 Group D betting tips for the second set of games and like Our Boys to grind out victory in the Nigeria vs Iceland preview.
For the Argentina vs Croatia clash, it is the two-time champions and 2014 runners-up fancied to get back on track.
Standings Group D
Goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson was the hero as Iceland held out to pick up a point against Argentina.
After diving to his right to save Messi’s tame spot-kick, the 34-year-old said: “I did some homework because I knew it was a situation that could come up.
“I looked at a lot of penalties by Messi and I also watched penalties I have faced, so I could see how I looked to penalty-takers. I had a good feeling he would go that way.”
Sergio Aguero had earlier put Argentina ahead with a lethal turn and finish, but Alfred Finnbogason pounced on a rebound to equalise soon after.
La Albiceleste boss Jorge Sampaoli cut a frustrated figure following the end of the game.
“We always come to win, so that’s why there is a certain amount of frustration,” he said glumly.
“We came up against a team with a strong defensive structure, lots of people behind the ball, so it stopped us from capitalising on our possession.”
|Argentina vs Iceland||1 - 1||Spartak Stadium|
|Croatia vs Nigeria||2 - 0||Kaliningrad Stadium|
|Argentina vs Croatia||Nizhny Novgorod Stadium|
|Nigeria vs Iceland||Volgograd Stadium|
|Iceland vs Croatia||Rostov Arena|
|Nigeria vs Argentina||Saint Petersburg Stadium|
Luca Modric led Croatia to a fairly comfortable triumph over Nigeria, netting from the spot after an own-goal from Stoke-bound Oghenekaro Etebo broke the deadlock.
The Real Madrid midfield maestro commented: “It was an important win which will boost our confidence for the forthcoming matches.
“I believe that on the wings of this win we will up our game and continue our journey in the way that we planned before coming here.”
Blazers coach Zlatko Dalic will not underestimate the challenge now ahead of his side, though.
“Argentina will be a different and difficult match and we have to be well prepared,” he added.
Nigeria were never at the races but Gernot Rohr is confident his squad can regroup as they now turn attentions to tackling Iceland in Volgograd.
“We are a young team, we are learning and I hope in the next game against Iceland we will do much better,” he declared. “All is possible still.”