Big Match Breakdown: Argentina v Iceland
Odds and tips ahead of Group D opener
Can Lionel Messi fire Argentina all the way to World Cup glory? Or will their unbalanced squad fall short, even with the Barcelona star? It’s going to be one of the most fascinating storylines in Russia.
La Albiceleste’s first match is against Iceland, who will be competing at the World Cup for the very first time. They’re the smallest nation to ever qualify, but their performances at Euro 2016 show they shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Coral News Team have all you need to know before the big game…
Argentina beat Italy 2-0 back in March, but that was swiftly followed by a humbling 6-1 defeat to Spain.
Their only game since then was a 4-0 win over Haiti, so Jorge Sampaoli’s side may not be at their sharpest here.
Iceland haven’t fared much better. Since securing qualification, they’ve only won two of eight games. Both wins came against Indonesia. They’ve failed to beat the likes of Qatar, Norway and Peru.
Sergio Romero’s injury means Willy Cabellero is set to start in goal for Argentina. The 36-year-old only made his international debut last year.
Manuel Lanzini’s absence also opens up a spot on the right flank. Sampaoli looks likely to go for Maximiliano Meza over Cristian Pavon, with Messi behind Gonzalo Higuain in attack.
Iceland’s side will look very similar to the Xi they used in the Euros. They’ll be very relieved Gylfi Sigurdsson is fit to start, although he hasn’t played a competitive game since March.
Iceland will be very disciplined and leave little space for Argentina’s star players to exploit. But can they keep out Messi, Higuain, Angel Di Maria and the rest?
Sampaoli can call on the likes of Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala if he needs a goal too. He’s arguably got the best attacking options in the tournament.
Iceland’s gameplan will revolve around Sigurdsson. They’ll sit deep and look to the Everton midfielder to orchestrate their attacking play.
They’ll also pose a real threat from set pieces. Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otamendi can both be rash at the back. Iceland will look to exploit that.
Given Iceland’s defensive organisation, Sampaoli’s side may not get too many clear chances. Argentina and Under 2.5 Goals is 21/10.
Expect the Argentines to dominate possession. Even a side that seems to relish defending like Iceland can slip up. It’s 7/2 that a penalty is taken in the match (was 5/2).
Iceland’s main man Sigurdsson is 6/1 to get a goal for the underdogs (was 5/1).
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing