Thursday, October 18, 2018

Prediction: Argentina vs Iceland

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 11/14

Bookmaker: 888sport

2014 World Cup finalists Argentina take on Euro 2016 surprise package Iceland in what should be a very interesting fixture in Group D at the 2018 World Cup finals. While Los Albicelestes will be looking to prove their title credentials early on, the Nordic side will try and produce yet another major upset at the biggest stage.

Argentina

It has now been 32 years since Argentina won their second World Cup title and they have since only twice reached the semi-finals, finishing as runners up on both occasions (1990 and 2014). Considering that Barcelona superstar Leo Messi will be 34 at the 2018 World Cup finals in Qatar, this is probably Argentina’s final chance to lift the coveted trophy when their star player is still in his prime, although the team’s recent performances have left a lot to be desired.

While Jorge Sampaoli somehow managed to secure Los Albicelestes a qualifying berth, he has faced plenty of problems in the build up to the tournament finals. After testing a number of playing styles, it appears that the former Chile boss has settled on 4-4-1-1 formation that will see Leo Messi play behind Gonzalo Higuain. Argentina haven’t been too impressive in warm-up games, suffering heavy defeats to Nigeria and Spain, while defeating Italy and Haiti, but we have a feeling they will find their form at the tournament finals and progress to the final stages. Nevertheless, they will most certainly not have an easy job against hard-working Iceland.

Team News

Veteran keeper Willy Caballero is expected to start after Sergio Romero was ruled out through injury, while Enzo Perez was called to replace Manuel Lanzini.

Iceland

Following some very difficult years, Iceland have become to show a great deal of potential of late and they finally reached their first major tournament as they qualified for the Euro 2016 two years ago. What is more, Strakarnir okkar impressed at the tournament finals, getting past the group stage before eliminating star-studded England in the first knockout stage. Their excellent campaign ended with a quarter-final defeat to France, but the team have since continued with promising performances.

Iceland made sure to qualify for their first ever World Cup finals by topping the group that also contained Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine among others, proving they should never be underestimated. Heimir Hallgrimsson’s men have since struggled in warm-up games, suffering defeats to Czech Republic, Mexico, Peru and Norway while sharing spoils with Qatar and Ghana, but we have no doubts the Iceland players will give their best to impress at the tournament finals in Russia.

Team News

Many were surprised to see Iceland’s top scorer Kolbeinn Sigthorsson fail to make the cut, but PSV starlet Albert Gudmundsson was given an advantage.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Argentina kept a clean sheet in last four World Cup fixtures (90 minutes)
  • Los Albicelestes were eliminated by Germany at least three tournaments
  • Iceland making first ever World Cup appearance
  • Argentina lost to Nigeria (2-4) and Spain (1-6) in the build up
  • Iceland winless in last six FIFA friendlies (D2 L4)

Conclusion

Argentina are clearly far from the desired form, they will be feeling the pressure of expectations and hard-working Iceland side will be out to make their life as difficult as possible. As a result, Los Albicelestes will struggle to score that opening goal that would make things a lot easier, so we definitely see low-scoring game on the cards.

Verdict: Under 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 11/14

Bookmaker: 888sport

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