Argentina vs Iceland – Saturday, June 16, 14:00BST/15:00CEST/16:00 MSK – Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia
Argentina vs Iceland is the ultimate David against Goliath story. Two years ago in France Iceland emerged from the group stage and then eliminated England in the round of 16 to become the biggest story of the tournament. Now playing their first ever World Cup the Strákarnir okkar will try to take their momentum from an unbelievable European Championships from two years ago.
Ultimately, France was the end of the line for Iceland two years ago. Now drawn in a group with Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria Iceland will once again have to upset the apple card to get out of what is an incredibly difficult group.
In some ways Group D is the group of death. But although Iceland are outsiders in the group an excellent World Cup qualification campaign highlights that the Strákarnir okkar are not without a chance. In fact, although all three opponents are excellent, every single one is heading to the tournament with some issues.
In Argentina’s case, the problems have involved the running of the Argentinian football federation, which has struggled with corruption and due to the lack of money with professionally running the national team. Exhausted by the many problems surrounding the team Lionel Messi even briefly retired from the Albiceleste two years ago.
In the end, Messi remained, but many of the problems did as well with Argentina only qualifying on the final day of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Hence, with Argentina drawn in a tough group and the national team internally divided Iceland could be an uncomfortable opponent in the first match.
Argentina vs Iceland – Players to look out for:
Lionel Messi #10 – Argentina (Barcelona)
Everything will once again depend on Messi. The 30-year-old forward and captain of Argentina has scored 34 goals in 36 games for Barcelona this season. In many ways, the Argentine remains the pinnacle of the world game, but at the same time, he is missing that one trophy that could make him eternal back home in Argentina where he is still often compared to Diego Maradona. Hence, Messi will try to carry the team as far as possible and will be the key player not just in the match against Iceland.
Gylfi Sigurdsson #10 – New Zealand (Everton)
Gylfi Sigurdsson is the star in a team without stars. Iceland very much defines itself through teamwork and as being a closed knit group. But Sigurdsson’s talent and his excellent shooting technique make him the one player that stands out a bit of the group.
Argentina vs Iceland – Match Stats
- This is the first time the two countries face each other
- Iceland will be playing their first ever World Cup match
- Argentina have collected 140 points in the all-time World Cup table. 16 points at this tournament and the Albiceleste overtake third-placed Italy.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Argentina vs Iceland – 1-1
Argentina vs Iceland – Lineups
Caballero – Tagliafico, Otamendi, Rojo, Salvio – Mascherano, Lo Celso – Di Maria, Messi, Pavon – Higuain
Head Coach: Jorge Sampaoli
Halldorsson – Skulason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Arnason, Eyolfsson – Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hallfredsson – Bjarnason, Gudmundsson – Sigurdason, Finnbogason
Head Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.