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argentina18Lionel Messi leads a star studded Argentina side into their World Cup 2018 Group D opener against Iceland at the Otkrytie Arena, Moscow on Saturday.

 

 

 

Group D also includes Croatia and Nigeria and you can read our outright preview for this quartet here.

 

Argentina:

Argentina qualified as third best in South America, 3 points behind Uruguay and 13 shy of Brazil. They finished with 7 wins, 7 draws and 4 defeats, scoring 19 goals and conceding 16 and the goals scored tally was surprisingly low given the talent in their attack.

In the 2014 finals Argentina won their group with a 100% record and then edged their way through to the final where they finished as runners to Germany, losing 1-0 in extra time. South Africa 2010 also saw Argentina start well but they exited at the quarter final stage to Germany, going down 4-0.

Argentina’s most recent major tournament was the 2016 Copa America, again they won all 3 group matches and went on to progress to the final where they were beaten 1-0 by Chile.

Friendly international form this year started with a 2-0 win over Italy and 6-1 hiding off Spain in March. Since then Argentina have played just 1 further game, a 4-0 win over Haiti at the end of May.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres).

Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino).

Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di María, Giovani Lo Celso (both Paris St-Germain), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Enzo Perez (River Plate)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala (both Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

 

Iceland:

Iceland topped their qualifying group finishing 2 points ahead of Croatia with a record of 7 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats. It was a competitive group with the likes of Turkey and Ukraine missing out and Iceland scored 16 goals and conceded 7

Iceland’s most recent major tournament finals came in Euro 2016 and they had a great campaign, coming through the group with draws against Portugal and Hungary followed by a 2-1 win over Austria. In the first knockout round they disposed of England with a 2-1 win but the quarter finals were a bridge too far as they lost 5-2 to host nation France.

Recent friendly international results include a 2-2 draw with Ghana and 3-2 defeat to Norway. Earlier in the year they lost 3-1 to Peru and 3-0 to Mexico.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson (Randers FC), Runar Runarsson (FC Nordsjælland), Frederik Schram (FC Roskilde).

Defenders: Kari Arnason (Vikingur), Ari Skulason (Lokeren), Birkir Saevarsson (Valur), Sverrir Ingason (FC Rostov), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Holmar Eyjolfsson (Levski Sofia), Ragnar Sigurdsson (FC Rostov).

Midfielders: Johann Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Arnor Traustason (Malmo FF), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Olafur Skulason (Kardemir Karabukspor), Rurik Gislason (SV Sandhausen), Samuel Fridjonsson (Valerenga), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City).

Forwards: Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Bjorn Sigurdarson (FC Rostov), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV Eindhoven).

 

Recent Head to Head

N/A

 

The Betting - Bet Now

Match Result:

Argentina 7/20

Draw 37/10

Iceland 9/1

Note, odds quoted are an approximate average and are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change

 

Verdict:

This sort of betting heat reminds me of a group match in the 2014 finals when Argentina were expected to score as they pleased against Iran but they ended up labouring to a 1-0 win. However, when you look at that forward line you would think they could take this Iceland defence, who have conceding plenty in friendly matches, to pieces.

I’ll side with over 2.5 goals.

 

Bets: Over 2.5 goals at 19/20

 

forumRemember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum