Argentina: For whatever reason, be they Real Madrid fans or just sadists, many critics say the best player in the world just won’t be allowed his full lore unless Lionel Messi leads his team to a World Cup. Messi has played in two Copa America finals and a World Cup final, but some need him to win a tournament on his own regardless of deficiencies at the back or anywhere else on the pitch. Will he?
Iceland: The darlings of EURO 2016 have a remarkably difficult task ahead of them, being asked to again overachieve on a massive stage.
Croatia: Loaded with talent and experience, the main rivals for the group title will see El Clasico rivals Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric again team up to take on the world.
Nigeria: Already celebrated for their unique green shirts, the Super Eagles will be led by a pair of young Premier League stars in Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi. Might they stun Argentina or Croatia?
Who’s going through: Argentina and Croatia
Who’s going home: Nigeria and Iceland
Marquee match: Croatia versus Nigeria, Saturday in Kaliningrad
Top 5 players to watch
1) Lionel Messi — Argentina
2) Luka Modric — Croatia
3) Ivan Rakitic — Argentina
4) Wilfred Ndidi — Nigeria
5) Gonzalo Higuain — Argentina