Argentina kick off their World Cup journey against European underdogs Iceland. The South American giants are favourites to top Group D and outside favourites for the Jules Rimet trophy.
Argentina vs Iceland
Jorge Sampaoli’s side will be hoping to add a third to their collection of two World Cup titles. The first came in 1978 and the last in 1986. Iceland, however, are no walk-overs. They caused a few upsets in the 2016 European championships. They will, therefore, be looking to do the same in Russia.
Iceland recorded draws against eventual European champions Portugal and also Hungary. They secured victories over Austria and eliminated Roy Hodgson’s England in a historic campaign.
That was their first time qualifying for an international tournament. Iceland are thus now entering a second successive major tournament, their very first World Cup. Qualification ergo clear indication that football is on the up in the sparsely-populated island nation. Fans will be hoping their side can use the no-pressure advantage to at least give their might opponents a bumpy ride.
Messi the Key For Argentina
You cannot discuss this Argentina side without mentioning Lionel Messi. Considered by many to be the best of all time, if this slightly above average side are to compete for the World title, it will be up to the Barcelona superstar to perform. The talisman will be desperately seeking a major international trophy. Not just for national pride, but to silence those saying that without a World Cup title, he cannot therefore be considered the one of the world’s greatest.
Iceland have a fairly poor squad in comparison to Argentina’s. Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson is the undisputed hero of this Iceland panel. The former Swansea and Tottenham star is the man to make magic, possibly turning a game for Iceland. Sigurdsson is a rare, technically gifted star amongst a very workman-like Icelandic team. Therefore, he could be a possible slippery problem for the South Americans.
The match kicks off at 14:00 pm GMT. The game is to be held in the Spartak Stadium in the Russian capital of Moscow. Iceland will have to give 100% for the entire game to compensate for their lack of quality. They could, ergo cause Argentina a few problems. However, the experience of the team, plus the individual quality of Messi, will likely be the difference.
Prediction: Argentina 2-0 Iceland