Argentina vs. Iceland
Fifa World Cup
June 16, 2018 9:00 AM ET
Free FIFA WORLD CUP Pick Argentina vs. Iceland
Argentina will enter this World Cup looking to erase the pain of four straight international finals losses including a defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup. They will also hope to show that the difficulty qualifying was a fluke. Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and all eyes and expectations of capturing Argentina’s first World Cup since 1986 will be on him in this World Cup. The tactics and formations for Argentina will remain a mystery as they have only been able to play 11 games under new manager Jorge Sampaoli where they have won 6, drawn 3 and lost 2 times. The Albiceleste have lost what has been there starting goalkeeper for most of the last decade in Sergio Romero and instead it looks to be Willy Caballero. This could be a huge loss especially if we see Sampaoli use the most attacking formation in the history of the World Cup with a 2-3-3-2 where he only has 2 defenders. This means keeping possession will be paramount and also Javier Mascherano will also be vital as he will be in front of the 2 center backs as the holding midfielder. A potential X factor that will probably be coming off the bench is Cristian Pavon who is an attacking midfielder who played on the left side against Haiti and set up the third of Lionel Messi’s goals in the 4-0 friendly win. Something else to keep an eye on is if Sampaoli chooses to start Sergio Aguero up front over Gonzalo Higuaín as Higuaín has continue to be a disappointment in an Argentina shirt. Argentina is favored to win Group D and need to get off to a good start this World Cup.
Iceland is coming off of a Cinderella run in the Euros and will hope for a similar showing in their first World Cup. Iceland used a 4-4-2 formation in the Euros and looks to keep the same formation but look to potentially miss out on the availability of a couple of key players due to injury. The captain Aron Gunnarson looks as if a knee injury will force him to miss at least this game and perhaps the biggest piece missing will be the best player they have in Gylfi Sigurdsson as their midfield has been ravaged by injuries. Iceland will need to have Sigurdsson at full fitness if they hope to pull off the upset here and currently many experts are projecting them to finish outside of the top two position that move onto the round of 16 but were the darlings of the Euros in 2016 and have shown being on the world stage will not intimidate them. Iceland will need to be sharp on the counter attack and hope that Argentina has yet to find a rhythm defensively. If Sigurdsson can’t give usual touch of class, then all of the playmaking and creating will fall to Johann Gudmundsson who plays a similar style as Iceland with his club Burnley and had 2 goals and 8 assists in the Premier League this season.
Last Five Games
Free FIFA WORLD CUP Prediction Argentina vs. Iceland
One of the key points in this matchup will be Iceland’s lack of pace on the wings as Argentina has attackers that will keep trying to stretch the game vertically and horizontally. In the friendly against Haiti Eduardo Salvio got the start at right back and considering his pace and attacking prowess he could be the smart bet to get the nod again. He should create plenty of havoc Iceland plays a very direct style with a lot of physicality which could create problems with an Argentina side that is a more technical team and doesn’t offer many players that can combat some of that physical style. If Argentina gets out to an early lead this could get ugly as Iceland will be forced to come out of their shell and attack which against such an attacking side the last thing you want is to get caught out with ball at Lionel Messi’s feet. Argentina should win comfortably in this one with their attack.
[button type=”big” color=”blue”] Pick: Argentina -275 [/button]