Lionel Messi misses penalty as Argentina held by Iceland

16 June, 2018, 19:20 | Author: Irvin Gilbert

Iceland, meanwhile, have already made history by becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup.

But they only qualified for Russian Federation thanks to a win in their final qualifier against Ecuador and scored 19 goals in 18 games, the lowest by any South American qualifier since the single-group format was adopted in the mid-1990s. Germany enters the tournament as the defending champion after winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

We now take a look at 5 key players who will play a vital role in Saturday's David and Goliath encounter.

Argentina have been training to try to combat Iceland's notable height advantage, and Sampaoli admitted the 6-centimetre difference remained a challenge. He has made 77 senior appearances for the national team and was made permanent captain in August 2012.

But all week Iceland have been telling people their Euro 2016 win over England was not a miracle, their group-topping qualification was not a shock and their place here is entirely in keeping with their Federation Internationale de Football Association ranking.

Sergio Aguero's emphatic finish gave Argentina the lead in the 19th minute, but that was cancelled out by Alfred Finnbogason just four minutes later.

They'll have a specific game plan for nullifying Argentina's many, many talented attackers, and I imagine that will largely involve sitting back and allowing their opponents to dominate the ball.

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After Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning display for Portugal against Spain in Sochi less than 24 hours earlier, all eyes were on rival Messi in the Russian capital.

Ever Banega came on in the second half, replacing Biglia, and his impact was immediate, driving through the crowded midfield; but ultimately there was no spark, and the frustration of an opening day draw felt inevitable. Yet this fails to take account of the coach's experimentation in recent games, while the fact that their EURO 2016 preparations ran a similar course is also encouraging.

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor has even hinted he could retire from worldwide football after the tournament, saying last week that "it will depend on how far we go". They conceded a silly penalty but Lionel Messi somehow hit it straight at the goalkeeper.

He said the Icelanders, who famously dumped England out of Euro 2016 on their way to the quarter-finals, were primed for their first-ever World Cup match.

While, it was an unbelievable moment for all Messi and Argentina faithful, somewhere the Ronaldo fanatics would have had a hearty laugh, seeing the Argentine miss it from the spot in what could probably have gone on to become the victor for his side.

So it seemed when Aguero, with his back to goal on the penalty spot, stopped a hopeful Marcos Rojo daisy-cutter with one touch and swivelled to smash a left-footed drive into the top corner.

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