In a frustrating game the highlight of the 90 minutes was the penalty missed by Lionel Messi. The Argentines were trying to break Iceland’s defense and succeeded quickly in the first half in the 19th minute with an amazing strike by Aguero. But Argentina’s lead lasted only 4 minutes when the Icelandic forward Finnbogason punished a mistake by Tagliafico.
Argentina was very shaky in the defense as it was expected and Iceland looked very dangerous in the few times they played in Argentina’s half. Caballero, Rojo and Tagliafico didn’t have the best game of their lives today and maybe they will be replaced by the likes of Armani, Fazio and Acuna.
Salvio tried to create something on the right and was the best fullback of both teams but nothing significant came from his crosses. In the second half Banega replaced Biglia and things started getting better for Argentina. Ever Banega had some good associative plays in the middle and was a better partner for Mascherano than the AC Milan player.
It was frustrating to watch Messi having such a bad game. He tried tirelessly but nothing came out as he wanted. He had 12 shots on target, but none of them were enough to beat Halldorsson. The filmmaker who only started his professional football career 4 years ago had some fantastic saves throughout the game.
The most significant save came in the 64th minute when he saved Messi’s penalty. Maxi Meza was previously fouled and the referee pointed to the spot. Messi didn’t manage to convert and as the game went by he lost his confidence. He will need to regain his form if Argentina want to progress. He also made more bad passes than he has ever made and there wasn’t any other Argentine player who could help him.
On the other side, Sigurdsson was the only guy who tried to create something but Iceland were toothless in the attack in the second half. They defended very well with three lines of players behind the ball and had enough luck not to concede any goals. The only player who seemed like he could do something was Aguero, arguably Argentina’s best player today.
Additionally, Pavon was more dangerous in the 15 minutes he played than Di Maria in 75. He was fouled on the edge of the box but the referee decided that it wasn’t enough for a penalty. The dentist on Iceland’s bench proved to be a great tactician and refreshed the midfield and the attack by giving a chance to Gislason, Skulason and Sigurdarson in the second half. These players helped Iceland keep the result and get a very significant 1 point. Iceland’s captain Gunnarsson had a great game until he was taken of even though he wasn’t 100% fit.
Caballero; Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico; Mascherano, Biglia (Banega), Meza (Higuain), Messi, Di Maria (Pavon), Aguero.
Halldorsson; Saevarsson, Arnason, R. Sigurdsson, Magnusson; Gudmundsson (Gislason), Gunnarsson (Skulason), Hallfredsson, Bjarnason, G. Sigurdsson; Finnbogason (Sigurdarson).
There are very small chances that Messi will play another game like this one. They are facing Croatia in the next round and they will need his best form to beat Modric’s team. Iceland, on the other hand, managed to get a very important point in the fight for the two first places and gained a lot of confidence before playing the next games.