Argentina vs Iceland
FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group D
Date: Saturday, 16 June 2018
Kick-Off at 14:00 UK / 15:00 CET
Venue: Otkrytiye Arena, Moscow.
There is a huge cloud over Argentina’s ambitions of going all the way in Russia. A win in the initial fixture against Iceland is a must for Jorge Sampaoli and his troops, but will it come smoothly on Saturday?
- Argentina are hoping to get their WC campaign off to a victorious start before the second-round tie with Croatia.
- Iceland have been very easy to break down in the last couple of months.
- The Nordic country conceded as many as 11 goals during the thread of three defeats and a draw in last four friendly internationals (against Mexico, Peru, Norway and Ghana).
- Both managers have certain woes with the physical condition of their players.
Argentina Iceland Match Preview
The World Cup in Russia might likely be the last opportunity for Lionel Messi to lead his national team to the silverware and delete the lone remaining criticism of his legacy. The Barcelona superstar was millimeters away from making it count four years ago in Brazil when Gonzalo Higuain’s inability to convert golden opportunities combined with Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner left La Albiceleste faithful in tears.
Argentina are not among the top-tier favorites this time around. They had an underwhelming qualifying campaign which saw three different managers guide them to some shocking results such as defeats to Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia and home draws to Venezuela and Peru.
La Albiceleste entered the final Matchday with a genuine chance of failing to qualify for the World Cup, but Messi once again appeared as the savior netting a hat-trick in the crucial victory away at Ecuador. Barcelona’s forward bagged seven goals in spite of the fact he only featured ten of eighteen qualifiers. Argentina’s dependence on him is best shown by the fact the team failed to win a single of these eight outings without the main star in the squad.
Argentina will have no easy opponent in the likes of Iceland in their opening game of the tournament. The smallest nation to have qualified for the competition continued to live the fairy-tale after making it to the quarter-final of the EURO 2016 in France.
Iceland’s progress and appearance on the football began back in 2011 when Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback took charge. They wrote one of the most beautiful stories two years ago and they have full right to hope for the best this summer in Russia with the same group of players on disposal.
Argentina vs Iceland Team News and Predicted Line-ups
Argentina Team News
Jorge Sampaoli had to make changes to the initial 23-men squad calling up Enzo Perez to replace the injured Manuel Lanzini.
The first-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero is also sidelined as Willy Caballero will find his place in the starting lineup.
This could be a big issue for the Argentines knowing that Caballero had very few minutes in Chelsea’s shirt this season.
Sampaoli used plenty of variations searching for the ideal strategy, but he’ll likely go with the conventional four-man defense and Messi as a play-maker right behind the first-choice striker Sergio Aguero.
Argentina Predicted Starting Eleven (4-2-3-1)
Caballero – Fazio, Otamendi, Mercado, Tagliafico – Biglia, Mascherano – Salvio, Messi, Di Maria – Aguero.
Iceland Team News
Iceland played the 4-4-2 formation at EURO 2016, but with Lagerback’s departure, Hallgrimsson kind of shifted it to 4-5-1 against tougher opponents.
Knowing the Nordic nation is about to play Argentina in their maiden fixture at the World Cups, we do expect such approach on the day.
Much like his colleague on the opposite side, Hallgrimsson had to deal with a number of injuries coming into the tournament.
Kolbein Sighthorsson is completely ruled out with a knee injury, while the physical condition of super important attacking likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson and Alfred Finbogasson is quite complicated given all of them carried injuries in the past couple of months.
Iceland Predicted Starting Eleven (4-5-1)
Halldorsson – Ragnar Sigurdsson, Arnason, Magnusson, Saevarsson – Hallfredsson, Gunnarsson, Bjarnason, Gudmundsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson – Bodvarsson.
Argentina Iceland Head-to-head
Argentina and Iceland did not have the chance to take on each other in the past.
Argentina Iceland Predictions
The rock-solid defensive line led Iceland towards the top-spot finish in their respective qualifying group ahead of the likes of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey. However, Hallgrimsson had huge issues with injured players over the last couple of months which caused the horrific streak in warm-up friendlies. The Nordic country lost three and drew one of last four internationals conceding as many as two goals in every single of these affairs.
This will no doubts be the music to the ears of Lionel Messi & company who will be lethal up front if given the smallest amount of space to shine. Given Iceland’s opposition in last two friendlies involved the likes of Norway (2-3 loss) and Ghana (2-2 draw), we do have to fancy the 1.66 odds offered for Lionel Messi to score anytime in his tournament opener.
Interestingly, you can also back three or more goals in the match at the sky-high 2.05 odds which is a must-take pick knowing that Argentina’s defensive line is also anything but reliable.
Predicted Full-Time Result is a victory for Argentina in what could easily be a high-scoring contest at Otkrytiye Arena.
Argentina vs Iceland Betting Tips
Lionel Messi to score anytime @ 1.66.
Over 2.5 goals FT @ 2.05.
Correct FT Score: 3-1 Argentina @ 13.00.
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