What you can expect from Argentina v Iceland

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The World Cup is well underway now and as we enter day three, the 2014 finalists Argentina begin their campaign.

They come up against Iceland in what will be their first ever World Cup! And after uniting home and opposing fans in Euro 2016 their manager Heirmir Hallgrimsson will hope to upset the big boys once again.

We cast our eye over the main talking points and what we can expect from this Group D opener.

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Sigurdsson had a tough first season with new club Everton. The Toffees were fighting to stave off relegation for the first half of the campaign.

The Icelandic international had been the jewel in their summer spending spree, shelling out £50 million for the 28-year-old.

For the national team he is even more indispensable. So when his World Cup was put into major doubt by a knee injury in March the nation collectively held their breath and prayed.

Iceland are unrecognisable without their talisman. In their two games without Sigurdsson in March they lost 3-0 and 3-1.

However, with the Everton man in the team at the Euros they didn’t lose a match until their quarter-final defeat to France.

And in the two World Cup warm-up games earlier this month Sigurdsson scored and assisted one in much more competitive Iceland performances.

He’s timed his comeback to perfection and will be vital to thwarting Lionel Messi and La Albiceleste.

Lionel Messi

If you think Sigurdsson is pivotal to Iceland’s fate then Messi is equally as essential to how Argentina progress in Russia.

When Messi missed eight qualifying games through injury and suspension it wasn’t expected just how much the team would falter.

In the eight games the forward didn’t play they managed a single victory. They scored 0.75 goals per game. Losing to Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia along the way. And to top it off sacked two managers.

A formidable strike-force including the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Mauro Icardi  managed only three goals over the two-year cycle.

With Messi in the side they won nine out of ten games including the all-important victory over Ecuador that saw the stuttering side scrape through. Messi notched a hat-trick that day.

They’re a completely different animal with the Barcelona man in their starting eleven.

He will turn 31-years-old during the tournament and this may be his last chance to get his hands on the famous trophy.

No Fear

If Iceland can waltz into Russia with as much coolness as they did in France two years ago then this might not be a foregone conclusion.

It’s always said how important avoiding defeat is in the opening game, especially with Croatia and Nigeria making up a competitive group.

The qualifying campaign has seen Iceland revert from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 against stronger nations. It’s the latter that you could expect to see in this one.

Emil Hallfredsson and Aron Gunnarsson will anchor the midfield letting Sigurdsson roam in a free-role.

You then choose between the tireless Dadi Bodvarsson and Augsburg’s Alfred Finnbogason in attack.

Iceland didn’t hold back in their first appearance on the major stage in France and their tactical approach won’t be compromised here either.

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All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication

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