Preview – Prediction
By: Jason Green
Date: Saturday June 16th
Match Odds: Argentina -300 / Iceland +900 / Draw +385
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Argentina was the runner-up in the last World Cup and this may be the last chance for Lionel Messi to win the big trophy, which would definitely put him in the talk of the all-time greats. Argentina is the big betting favorite in this Group D opening match, but Iceland plays great as a team and is in the midst of their best form of all time.
Iceland is making their first ever appearance in the World Cup finals and on top of that they are the least populous nation to ever make the Tournament. The nation of under 400,000 people had a great run in the 2016 European Championships making the quarterfinals.
Well, one thing Iceland has going for them is that this will be their first ever match facing Argentina. Their style of play is frustrating, but can they do that to Argentina, which is a squad that is loaded with great talent all over the pitch?
Iceland will be sure to take a defensive approach in this match, which is far from surprising. They played great defense in their great run in the 2016 Euros, but their recent form on defense has been less than impressive. In their Four friendly matches leading up to Russia they lost three times and had one draw giving up 11 goals in that span. Needless to say, facing Messi and company if Iceland does not play a near perfect match on the defensive side of the pitch they have no chance to win.
Iceland has more to worry about than just Messi, as he will likely be joined by Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain in the starting 11. These two are not as dynamic as Messi, but they are dangerous playing for Manchester United and Juventus and Iceland cannot give them space.
Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kari Arnason lead the defense for Iceland, but they will gte a lot of help from the midfield, which will not push forward, but rather drop back and pack their defensive area.
Burnley’s Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson leads the Iceland defense and while dropping back his play will be key looking for counter-attack scoring chances. The counter will be Iceland best chance to Scorein this match and while they will be dominated in time of possession they have to pounce on any chance they can push the ball. Gylfi Sigurdsson leads the Iceland attack up front and he is like the team’s MF, as he has to pounce on any chance he gets the ball near the Argentina goal.
Iceland is a veteran laden squad with a lot of experience in big matches, but can they pull off a shocker in Russia? They have to hope Argentina takes them lightly as the squad that has the lowest betting odds to win the group.
Last Three Matches
3/23/18 Argentina 2 Italy 0 (Friendly)
3/27/18 Spain 6 Argentina 1 (Friendly)
5/28/18 Argentina vs. Nicaragua (Cancelled)
5/30/18 Argentina 4 Haiti 0 (Friendly)
3/24/18 Mexico 3 Iceland 0
3/28/18 Iceland 1 Peru 3
6/2/18 Iceland 2 Norway 3
6/7/18 Iceland 2 Ghana 2
Prediction: Iceland will put up a defensive fight early on, but Argentina has too much firepower up front. They will Scoreat least two goals and keep Iceland scoreless and Argentina will take three points from this opening match with a win.