FIFA WORLD CUP 2018
Iceland 1(Finnbogasson) : Argentina 1 ( Aguero)
Superstar Lionel Messi( LM10 ), idol of many Argentine idolaters in the world missed a penalty , could not do a CR7 Free kick goal on the previous night . Third World Cup Title aspirant Argentina’s mission Russia started with road bump against the rookie Iceland. The favorties were forced sharing points with world cup Rookie Iceland drawing the match 1-1.
Many tagged group D as the group of death where Croatia and Argentina are being thought bitter contestants for Argentina. But Messisquad’s journey got stumbled against the tiny nation Iceland – the smallest ever to appear in world cup. It was a dream start for the very courageous and determined Icelanders against a Soccer Superpower. Truly speaking Argentina did not at all look like the team ready for going deep in this tournament. Now it has already become a tough ask for them to even advance beyond the preliminary round. Croatia has already won 2-0 against strong Nigeria. The Argentina Nigeria match would decide which team would accompany Croatia from the group. We are not sure whether Iceland would have enough steam to sail further in the group of death. World would possibly not like favorite Argentina dying early in the group of death.
It was a dream journey for the Iceland. My friends who watched Euro match win of Iceland against England told me about grit and determination of little known Icelanders. But I never thought that absorbing the nerves of the debutants against soccer giant Argentina they would present such a wonderful display of defensive football. They looked rock solid in defense and whey attacked did it with purpose. All that Messi and co did excepting the superb Aguero goal were constantly bounced back. Argentina must consider themselves lucky to even salvaging a point. Iceland also created few goal laden moves as well. The most painstaking event was Messi failing to convert a penalty .He also could not exploit a free kick from a vintage position. Argentine mid field looked soft and deep defense vulnerable. If they do not significantly improve Croatia and Nigeria would exploit.
After a spectacular Ronaldo epic last night the world wide Argentine fans thought a magical Messi Night to follow. The Maestro got his opportunities. But he failed to live up to his reputation. Di Maria was complete flop and Dybala warmed up the bench. As expected better skilled Argentina started dominating the proceeding right from the words go. But most of the attacks were breaking and were unable to melt the Ice of the Iceland defense. Rather on counter attack the first real chance of forging ahead came to Iceland. BirkirBjarnason failed converting a golden opportunity for Icelanders early on. If he could convert it could further humiliation for mighty Argentines. However, Aguero made a superb strike in the 19th minutes of the match creating a momentary sigh of relief taking 1-0 lead.
But Jorge Samaoli’s boys have a soft centre and their lead lasted for only four minutes and 15 seconds, as Alfred Finnbogason equalised starring the first goal for his proud nation in world cup history 1-1. Finnbogasson had made a hash of a header seconds earlier but Argentinan defence failed to clear and Willy Cabaliero could only palm Hordur Magnusson’s shot into the path of the Iceland striker, who gleefully capitalised.
Finnbogason’s equaliser was the product of excellent Icelandic pressing, drawing slackness down the right and that fumble from Caballero as the cross from Gylfi Sigurdsson came in. Iceland’s centre-forward moved more quickly than the swamp-bound defenders around him to poke the ball home.
The rest of the match was the story of shell shocked Argentina’s making desperate attempts for unlocking the Iceland defence. But they remained firm and fixed most of the time.
Messi’s missed penalty was the only clear chance for Argentina forging ahead. Surprising all those present in the stadium and shocking his world wide admirers he failed to convert. ChristainPavon’s bouncing cross drew a fine late save from Halldorson. Argentina had to contend with a point. Though it is a bit early to conclude but it seems that Argentina and Messi may not stay in Russia longer . Croatia and Nigeria would take sterner tests. Iceland deserves lots of accolades for brilliant debut. The fairy tale journey of the boys from tiny Iceland continues. The 1-1 draw on debut against one of the favourites of World cup is a huge achievement.
No doubt many would like to draw a parallel with Cristiano Ronaldo’s wonderful hat-trick on Friday evening – an extreme contrast with Messi’s impotence on the day. But this was an occasion that belonged above all to the men from the volcanic rock in the middle of the Atlantic, whose extraordinary world tour is not showing any sign of losing its momentum yet.
The task of Argentina got even harder when later on the night Croatia cruised past Nigeria 2-0. Argentina must now win at least one of two matches by a large margin and manage to hold the opponent in the other. Neither would be easy.
Rui Patricio, Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerrcio, WillanCarvello, Joao Moulinho, BerhandoSilva, GunacaloGuede , Bruno Fernandes and Ronaldo.
F de Gea, Nacho, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alva, Busquets, Koke, Silva , Inesta and Diego Costa.