After losing out in the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Argentina was determined to kick-off their World Cup campaign with a victory over the debuting Iceland, however, that wasn’t the case to be as Lionel Messi and co. were held to a disappointing draw at 90 minutes.
Following a clinical performance from hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo, it was now Lionel Messi’s turn to steal the show in Russia, as the Barcelona frontman looked to lead Argentina to an opening match victory against the tiny nation of Iceland.
Argentina’s opening game against Iceland didn’t exactly turn out how they expected it to be, as Jorge Sampaoli’s men were held to a 1-1 draw at the Spartak Stadium, in what was also their first meeting with Iceland.
Goals were expected in this match as Argentina came in as the big favorites after having scored 19 goals in the CONMEBOL qualifiers, with only Bolivia scoring fewer (18) and all it took was just 19 minutes for Argentina to open the scoring when Marcos Rojo drilled in a shot into the Iceland box, allowing Sergio Aguero to smash the ball into the top corner of the net. This was also Aguero’s first ever World Cup goal after making 9 appearances for his nation in the FIFA WC.
However, on the other hand, all it took was just four minutes for Iceland to score the equalizer when Augsburg striker Alfreð Finnbogason tapped in from close range to make the score 1-1. Iceland’s first goal in the FIFA World Cup, truly a historic moment to savior.
We headed into the break with the scoreline at 1-1 and following the start of the second half, Argentina looked to shake things up a bit when they introduced Ever Banega in place of Lucas Biglia. And right at the hour mark (64 minutes to be precise), Argentina had the golden opportunity to take the lead as they won a penalty, but captain Lionel Messi failed to convert it from the spot, keeping the score tied at 1-1.
Argentina, who despite introducing the likes of Gonzalo Higuain later on in the match, failed to capitalize and eventually were held to a disappointing draw by Iceland as the points were shared in Russia.
Positives for Argentina:
Argentina’s attack looked very lively from the start and will prove to be the biggest factor in their 2018 World Cup campaign.
However, Jorge Sampaoli needs to make sure that he uses the services of Paolo Dybala right from the start in Argentina’s upcoming match.
Negatives for Argentina:
The difference between Argentina’s attack and defense is very contrasting, as it was noted that the likes of Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otamendi struggled a lot throughout the match, especially the former, who played ahead of Federico Fazio.
Positives for Iceland:
The Iceland team remained organized during the entire 90-minutes, especially the team’s talented midfield and attack. Aaron Gunnarson, as usual, led the side from the front, with the support of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Negatives for Iceland:
If there is any particular concern for Iceland then it’s definitely going to be their defense which was seemingly exposed at times by the Argentine attack.