A Viking start to Iceland’s World Cup dreams as they held on to their nerves with a stellar performance against a Messi-led Argentina and held them to 1-1 draw in their first league match. A downtrodden Messi cut a lonesome figure after the match ended as he failed to convert his penalty kick with one of the better saves of the competition by Icelandic goalkeeper, Halldorsson.
Iceland sat very deep in the first half. Though they were not able to withstand 45 minutes of Argentinian pressure without conceding a goal, Iceland were often at their best when playing without possession. Their captain and defensive conductor, Aron Gunnarsson was at his best. Argentina suffered in the first half. They suffered in attack as they couldnot find the spaces to unravel Iceland’s defence despite monopolising the ball. And they suffered in defence because every time Iceland went deep, beyond Argentina’s back-line, danger resulted.
Aguero’s first World Cup goal was a definite positive though. He dribbled across defenders and turned around to get a great shot past the goalkeeper which hit the net at it’s topmost.
In the second half, Argentina missed a penalty and it must have brought back some horrific old memories for Lionel. After that, it was just a tale of all the 11 players of Iceland standing tall and stumped in their own half defending each and every ball that even managed to get pass them luckily. Icelandic defenders and goalkeeper really were the match winners today.
Argentina failed to win, looked vulnerable in defence, and even Messi had an off day. All that is true. But there were also positives. It was a brave, attacking line-up with a clear tactical plan, and there were signs that there may be better to come from Sampaoli’s side in the games ahead.