The clash between Argentina and Iceland will be played at the Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow on June 16th. The Albiceleste is the biggest favorite in the group and one of the favorites to lift the trophy in Russia this summer, while the debutants from Northern Europe will be playing without a pressure and could turn out to be quite a dangerous opponent.
Argentina vs. Iceland
Three-Way: 1: Argentina -278; X: +400 Draw; 2: Iceland +1000 (Odds provided by Delaware Park Sportsbook)
Spread -1.5: Argentina +104; Iceland -133
Total 2.5 goals: Over +100; Under -125
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The road to the World Cup
The two-time World champions experienced a few difficulties to book their ticket to Russia, but they qualified for their 17th World Cup and 12th in a row, and following a heartbreaking defeat to Germany in the finals four years ago in Brazil, Argentina is now hoping to win for the first time since 1986 in Mexico.
On the other hand, Iceland is one of two teams (Panama) who are the debutants at this competition, and they made it to Russia after finishing at the top of the qualifying group ahead of Croatia, who will also be their rival here.
Argentina displayed a lot of defensive weaknesses during this spring’s preparations as they lost to Nigeria 4-2 and to Spain 6-1, which is unacceptable for the team of this quality. Jorge Sampaoli’s side played five friendlies and won three with the aforementioned pair of defeats, and the positive thing is that they didn’t concede a single goal in those three victories over Russia, Italy, and Haiti.
Iceland had more time to prepare for the World Cup but they didn’t impress, winning only two out of eight matches, both times against weak Indonesia. They fell short to Mexico, Peru, and Norway, while the latest clash with Ghana ended 2-2, despite a 2-0 lead at the halftime.
Players to watch
Without a doubt, all eyes will be on Leo Messi who is desperate to win this trophy, one of the few he’s missing in his illustrious career, and after missing out on it in Brazil, he will try to do it now. Messi is coming from a fantastic campaign with Barcelona, and although he is not that successful with his national team, this could be his last chance to win the World Cup, so expect a maximum from the little wizard.
Iceland’s best player and the current leading-scorer is Gylfi Sigurðsson, who has 19 goals in 57 caps thus far, and he needs seven more goals to tie Eiður Guðjohnsen’s record. Even though it would be hard to see him doing it here, the No. 10 will definitely be Iceland’s go-to guy after returning from a lengthy injury, but he’s fully fit to drive his country forward.
- Argentina scored in each of the last six matches
- Argentina kept the clean sheet in three out of the previous five games
- Argentina allowed ten goals in the past four games
- Iceland scored a pair of goals in each of the last two games
- Iceland conceded in all of the previous five games
This will be the first-ever meeting between two teams, and although it would be surprising to see Argentina failing to get three points, I would opt for goals rather for the Albiceleste’s win as the odds are rather low. Instead, I expect to see at least three goals as Iceland’s leaky defense will be unable to limit Argentina’s high-flying attack, but they could also find the net on the other end.
The Pick: Over 2.5 goals (+100)