“You can’t be the greatest footballer of all times unless you win the World Cup” – these are the words of Diego Maradona meant to give Lio Messi encouragement ahead of the big tournament. And it seems Argentina will need Messi at his best, as their group seems pretty tough.
They play in the Group D, together with Croatia, Nigeria, and Iceland, with whom they play this Saturday afternoon at the Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow. So, will Messi and Co. start their World Cup campaign in the fifth-gear? Find out in this Argentina vs. Iceland match preview!
Argentina struggled quite a lot in the qualifiers and there was a big fear among their fans that they would end up without a spot in Russia. In fact, every scenario was open before the final game of the qualifiers in which they played against Ecuador.
They needed a win in that game, but when Ecuador’s Romario Ibarra scored in the first minute, everyone though Argentina were doomed. But then, Lionel Messi happened. The Messiah stepped out and scored a hat-trick, single-handedly getting his team a place at the World Cup 2018.
Obviously, Messi is their best player, but Argentina have plenty of other great footballers, especially in the attack. Aguero, Di María, Dybala, and Higuain are just some of the forwards that Jorge Sampaoli has at his disposal.
Unfortunately for their fans, Argentina aren’t as impressive in the midfield and at the back. Biglia from Milan and Banega from Sevilla are probably going to be the midfielders in charge of creating chances for Messi and other forwards. Just behind them, Sampaoli will probably put veteran defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano.
And in the back line, we should see Otamendi, Fazio, Ansaldi, and probably Tagliafico. It’s not a too impressive back line, but they probably can do their job well. But, the weakest link in Argentina is their goalkeeper. Sampaoli will have to decide who’s gonna be between the posts – Willie Caballero (Chelsea’s reserve goalkeeper), Guzmán (from Tigres UANL), or Armani (from River Plate).
At the Euro 2016, Iceland were everyone’s favorites after performing great in the group stage and beating England in the Round of 16. Can they do something similar two years later? Well, this is a side that relies on team spirit. That said, their players are famously aggressive and persistent throughout a game, which some opponents find impossible to deal with.
Unfortunately for them, technical quality isn’t on their side. At least, it won’t be in the match against Argentina. Still, you can be sure they’re gonna push forward no matter what. And considering that Argentina aren’t too great in defense, Iceland might put away one or two.
Still, saying that Iceland are favorites in this game would be ridiculous. They’re likely to lose this match, but with dignity.
Guzman – Fazio, Otamendi, Ansaldi, Tagliafico – Mascherano, Biglia, Banega – Messi, Di Maria, Aguero
Halldorsson – Arnason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Eyjolfsson, Skúlason – Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gudmundsson, Bjarnason – Sigurdason, Finnbogason
Argentina vs. Iceland Match Prediction
Considering how much talent there is in the attack of Argentina, I think we’re going to see a lot of goals in each game this team plays on this tournament. Another reason why I expect many goals here is that Argentina has a leaky defense (particularly their goalie), so Iceland could sneak in a couple of goals.
Argentina vs. Iceland Betting Tips
- Argentina @1.36 (bet365)
- Argentina & Over 2.5 @2.1 (William Hill)
- BTS @2.50 (bet365)
- Over 3.5 Goals @3.40 (bet365)