Lionel Messi and co. kick off their tournament campaign against the European upstarts when they meet in Moscow
Argentina begin their quest to claim a third World Cup title on Saturday when they take on tournament newcomers Iceland at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
With talent such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria in their squad, Jorge Sampaoli’s team will be considered among the tournament favourites and they’ll be eager to get off to a good start.
While the Albiceleste are regulars in the tournament, Iceland have reached the stage for the first time in their history, having topped their qualification group ahead of Croatia.
The Scandinavian side’s relative lack of stature in the world game has not held them back though and Argentina will be wise not to take them lightly.
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on ITV or streamed live online using the ITV Player.
Squads & Team News
Argentina were rocked by a number of injuries to key players in the lead up to the tournament, with Sergio Romero and Manuel Lanzini being ruled out.
The loss of the latter, in particular, could have far-reaching consequences in terms of what personnel Jorge Sampaoli chooses to fit into his preferred 4-2-3-1 system.
Potential Argentina XI: Caballero; Mercado, Otamendi, Fazio, Tagliafico; Mascherano, Banega; Meza, Messi, Di Maria; Aguero.
Iceland were boosted by the return to full fitness of their talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson, who recovered from a serious injury to take his place in the squad.
Heimir Hallgrimsson has brought a respectable squad to Russia, with the likes of Augsburg’s Alfred Finnbogason and Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson providing valuable experience.
Potential Iceland XI: Halldorsson; R. Sigurdsson, A. Skulason, Eyjolfsson, Arnason; Bjarnason, G. Sigurdsson, Hallfredsson, J. Gudmundsson; Sigurdarson, Finnbogason.
Betting & Match Odds
Argentina are heavy favourites to win the game at 4/11 according to dabblebet, with Iceland priced at 9/1. A draw between the teams is a 4/1 bet.
Click here to see all of dabblebet’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Injuries and off-field drama have already disrupted Argentina’s World Cup preparations, but the Albiceleste will have a chance to dispel any lingering concerns when they take to the field against Iceland in Moscow on Saturday.
Sampaoli’s side faced an arduous journey to get to Russia, securing their place thanks to a Messi-inspired victory over Ecuador in their last qualifying match, and they will be eager to avenge their 2014 final defeat to Germany this summer. However, they have been placed in a highly competitive group, with difficult encounters against Croatia and Nigeria to come after Iceland, so they will have to be on the top of their game to reach the knock-out stage.
Iceland may be considered by some to be the weakest of the four teams in Group D, but Hallgrimsson’s men finished ahead of Croatia in qualifying and they have shown they have what it takes to compete in major tournaments, recording convincing results over Portugal and England at Euro 2016. Midfielder Johann Gudmundsson is hopeful that his side can frustrate Messi in a similar manner they did with Cristiano Ronaldo in France two years ago.
“It will be tough to play against him [Messi] but as long as he is frustrated and can’t score, we’re happy,” said the Burnley midfielder. “Let’s just go out there and try to beat them and make him even more angry [than Ronaldo was].”