Lionel Messi makes another run at World Cup glory this summer, and he starts his campaign on Saturday as Argentina take on Iceland. It’s the World Cup debut for Iceland, who are the smallest country to ever participate in the tournament.
Argentina vs. Iceland Squads
After watching Cristiano Ronaldo put up a hat trick against Spain, it’ll be interesting to see if Messi throws his name into the Golden Boot race. Messi is the obvious core of the Argentina offense, and has been involved in five of their last seven World Cup goals.
Of course, Argentina is more than just Messi. La Albiceleste are always a talented squad, but their roster is a little thinner on elite talent than in
years past. Dybala is steady as the machine in the middle, but this is as good a time as ever for Sergio Aguero to show up for his national team.
This was previously a team that could survive on defense, but Nicolas Otamendi is far from elite and Javier Mascherano is now 34 years old. All things considered, this is not the team that battled Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
In a surprise move, Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has already released his lineup for Saturday. They’ll play a 4-2-3-1 against the Socceroos with Messi alone up top.
Iceland may be small, but they’re a technically sound team that defeated England at Euro. That squad is still mostly intact, Gylfi Sigurdsson is the heartbeat for Iceland, and he’s recovered from a knee injury with perfect timing, making his return in a friendly just last week. Slovakia were also World Cup debutants in 2010, and used that element of surprise to reach the Round of 16. It’s not out of the cards for Iceland.
Sigurdsson isn’t just the only one- captain Aron Gunnarsson is also dealing with a knee injury. He’s the man in the middle for Iceland, and along with Sigurdsson is key to Iceland’s organization and defense.
Heimir Hallgrimsson will run out his 4-4-2 for Iceland, and will play a very direct style. They aren’t big on quickness, but could catch Argentina off-guard with a well-placed cross on a counter or set piece.
Argentina vs. Iceland Lineups
Lineups are released one hour before kickoff
Argentina: Willy Caballero, Eduardo Salvio, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Maximiliano Meza, Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero
Iceland: Halldórsson, Árnason, Saevarsson, R.Sigurdsson, Magnusson, Gudmundsson, Gunnarsson, Hallfredsson, Bjarnason, Finnbogason, G.Sigurdsson