Argentina 1-1 Iceland: Five things we learned

Source: Ghana/Gideon Baiden

Tiny Iceland made a stunning first-ever World Cup appearance on Saturday when they held 2014 runners-up Argentina to a 1-1 draw in a dramatic match where Lionel Messi blew his chance to win it when he had a penalty saved by Hannes Por Halldorsson.


Who thought Iceland’s first goal in the world cup will come against Argentina? Finnbogasson has inked his name in the history books as he secured Iceland’s first world cup goal.


In a game where Messi failed to respond to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 3 goal heroics, Sergio Aguero proved that he is a top marksman. He scored the first goal in the 19th minute with typical awareness, proving that he can come up with surprises of his own.


In the 64th minute, Lionel Messi stepped up to take a spot kick and in an all too familiar scene, he missed!!! A worrying trend as Messi is supposed to be the man to lead his team into world cup glory. Definitely, I think that it will be too early to write off Lionel Messi. For Messi’s quality, it will be detrimental to judge him by this performance but the multimillion dollar question is: will Messi put today’s game behind him and come back roaring in the next games?


Even though Argentina had the lion’s share of possession, they didn’t do enough to earn a victory. Messi and his men found it very difficult to break through a very tight Iceland defense. Argentina’s build-up play was very slow as they passed the ball from side to side and most often, without any sense of urgency. Argentina did play with some urgency getting to the end of the game but it was too little, too late. Di Maria was simply lost in the game whereas Messi was kept at bay by a spirited Iceland team. In Iceland’s defensive third, Messi was quickly closed down by three players anytime he had the ball. In the absence of Messi’s sparkle, Argentina’s attack was a bit flat and they need to improve on that if they are to live to their high expectations.


After conceding in the 19th minute, Iceland responded with a goal of their own just 4 minutes later. Iceland were spirited on the night. They defended in their numbers and made it very difficult for Argentina. They also created very decent opportunities and showed that they have what it takes to hurt any caliber of opposition they face. Hallfredsson was very immense as he performed a yeo man’s job on Messi. He closed him down very quickly and offered the little magician very limited time to weave his magic. They were very massive and intense against this star-studded Argentinian side. Iceland means business. 

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