Argentina vs Iceland Preview: Contrasting opponents to do battle in Group D opener

Argentina vs Iceland Preview: Contrasting opponents to do battle in Group D opener

South American giants to kick-off their FIFA World Cup 2018 tournament with a clash against Scandinavian minnows.

Alexander Ford

Argentina and Iceland will look to kick-off their FIFA World Cup 2018 tournament when they meet in the opening game of Group D on Saturday at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.

Jorge Sampaoli's side will be considered by many as one of the competition’s favourites to lift the trophy come the end of the global spectacle, especially given with the number of talented players they have at their disposal.

Iceland will be competing in their first World Cup in the small Scandinavian nation’s history and will be looking to build upon an impressive Euro 2016 campaign, having qualified for the tournament in Russia after topping their group with the likes of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey all involved.

Argentina's superstars to look to go one further

Argentina will be entering their 17th finals, having lifted the trophy twice and finishing runners-up in the 2014 competition, where they were beaten by Germany. The South American’s will be looking to go one better this summer and will be confident that they have a team capable of doing it.

La Albiceleste made it hard work to get to Russia during qualifying, having to rely on a Lionel Messi hat-trick in their final qualifier against Ecuador and will be hoping the Barcelona ace can guide the side through the tournament once again.

An attacking line-up of Ángel Di María, Sergio Agüero, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín alongside Messi will surely frighten any defence and many fear they will score a huge amount of goals between them during the duration of the competition.

Predicted XI: Caballero; Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico; Mascherano, Biglia; Meza, Messi, Di Maria; Agüero.



A complete contrast in quality

Unlike their opponents, Iceland will not have the luxury of a number of world football’s stars and will rely on their togetherness to try and get them through a group that includes Nigeria and Croatia once again.

Heimir Hallgrímsson’s men got through their World Cup Qualifying campaign by scoring just 16 goals, the lowest total by any of the winners having won seven of their 10 matches. During that same time, they had only conceded seven times and will be looking to take them as far as possible.

Gylfi Sigurðsson is going to be their main man for the tournament if they are to have any chance of making the later rounds, with Jón Böðvarsson hoping to be in amongst the goals, whilst Birkir Bjarnason and Jóhann Guðmundsson will need to be solid in the middle of the park.

Predicted XI: Halldorsson; Magnússon, Ragnar Sigurðsson, Árnason, Sævarsson; Hallfreðsson, Gunnarsson; Bjarnason, Gylfi Sigurðsson, Guðmundsson, Böðvarsson.




The two nations have never met each other in any form of competition and both come into the tournament with a mixed run of form.

Argentina will want to forget their heavy 6-1 defeat to Spain in a friendly back in March, whilst Iceland have failed to record a victory in their last four matches in preparation for the World Cup competition.