Argentina face Iceland in the first game of Group D in a match up which proves to be an interesting one. In one of the more competitive groups of the World Cup, this game may be pivotal for both sides in order to secure qualification to the Round of 16.
Argentina have already faced an early blow to their World Cup campaign. Midfielder Manuel Lanzini saw his competition come to an end with a ruptured anterior knee ligament. River Plate midfielder Enzo Perez was his replacement. The 32 year old has earned 23 caps for the national team, including one for the 2014 World Cup Final. Perez adds an injection of experience to this midfield unit. No doubt he will be hoping for a better end to this tournament.
Many fans see Iceland to be the dark horse of this world cup. The team captivated our imaginations with an inspired showing at Euro 2016. This was capped with a sensational upset win against England. The nightmares still continue to this day. The fans should hope that star-player Gylfi Sigurdsson will be on top form. In an incredible stat, the attacking midfielder has won Iceland player of the year an astounding seven times.
Who doesn’t love the plucky underdog? In this case, however, it’s hard to predict anything other than a win for the Argentines. Their formidable attacking group is certainly a force to be reckoned with, and it may be difficult for the Iceland back line to cope. Despite this, a tiny part of me believes that Iceland may be able to scrape a draw, or even a win if the football Gods are looking upon them. Importantly, the Argentine defense still remains a question mark. Their goalkeeper situation is certainly an undesirable one. Chelsea bench-warmer Willy Caballero seems to be their first choice, yet he only played in three league games last season. A further weakness of this defensive line lies in their ageing back line. Can Iceland surprise us all yet again?
These thoughts may be entertaining in practice, yet the reality is much less bright for the Scandinavians. I highly doubt that they will be able to contain the electric attacking force of Argentina. I’m expecting a 3-0 win in favour of the South Americans.