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SPORTS | 01-12-2017 17:34

Argentina lands comfortably in World Cup Group D

The team led by Lionel Messi and coach Jorge Sampaoli will face Iceland, the least populated nation to complete in next year’s cup, on Saturday June 16 at 10 am in the Otkrytie stadium in Moscow.

After a nervy entry into the World Cup, Argentina fared well in Friday’s World Cup draw and will face off against Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in Group D.

The team led by Lionel Messi and coach Jorge Sampaoli will face Iceland, the least populated nation to complete in next year’s cup, on Saturday June 16 at 10 am in the Otkrytie stadium in Moscow.

The draw was held yesterday in the Kremlin. In attendance were Russian President Vladimir Putin and Argentina football great Diego Maradona.

CLOSE CALL

Runner-up in the 2014 World Cup, Argentina barely made it to this World Cup. And while a team lead by Messi cannot be ignored, other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Iguain have been far from being in top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front.

Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career.

Coach Sampaoli, 57, is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark in the World Cup.

Iceland, the country with the smallest population of the 32 World Cup teams, will face qualifying opponent Croatia in Group D along with Argentina and Nigeria.

"Croatia has an excellent midfield, Nigeria is unpredictable and has some very fast players, and Iceland comes in with little pressure," Argentina coach Sampaoli said.

-TIMES/AP

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