Cristiano Ronaldo made his World Cup 2018 bow on Friday, and on Saturday we will see his main rival for the ‘best player on earth’ tag, Lionel Messi, strut his stuff as Argentina open their account against Iceland. Will the Barcelona man inspire his side to victory? Here are our Argentina vs Iceland betting tips.
There is something odd about Argentina. Finalists at World Cup 2014, you still can’t shake the feeling that this golden generation of players has somewhat underachieved on the international stage, and head coach Jorge Sampaoli’s task of creating balance and order in a side so top-heavy with attacking talent is tricky.
As for Iceland, they have been in football dreamland for the past couple of years. Euro 2016 was their first ever major tournament appearance, and a run to the quarter finals must have been beyond their wildest dreams.
Their adventure didn’t end there though, and qualifying from a tough group that also included Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine is an indicator that they are far more than a flash in the pan.
So is there a chance that Iceland could spring the biggest shock of World Cup 2018 so far in Moscow on Saturday afternoon? Continue reading our Argentina vs Iceland betting tips for more insight.
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Argentina vs Iceland Betting Tips
Messi, Aguero, Dybala, Higuain, Di Maria….Argentina have the attacking talent to blow opponents away, right?
Well, not exactly. If we take you back to World Cup 2014, you might recall they scored just eight goals in seven matches on route to the final, including a paltry one in four in normal time in the knockout stages.
They netted just 19 in 18 CONMEBOL qualifiers too – compare that to Brazil’s 41 as a guide, and since Sampaoli took over – a manager typically known for his attacking outlook – this is how the Argentines have fared*:
Argentina 1-0 Brazil
Argentina 0-0 Uruguay
Argentina 1-0 Brazil
Argentina 1-1 Venezuela
Argentina 0-0 Peru
Argentina 3-1 Ecuador
Argentina 1-0 Russia
Argentina 2-4 Nigeria
Argentina 2-0 Italy
Argentina 1-6 Spain
*The games against Singapore and Haiti haven’t been counted due to low quality of opposition
And so we can conclude that the Argentines are not prolific; far from it. Perhaps they focus so intently on the weakest part of their game – defending – that their galaxy of attacking stars are prevented from really clicking into gear.
We’d love to see Argentina attack with free-flowing abandon in this World Cup, but it’s highly unlikely to happen.
The Ice Men Cometh
If you’re scratching your head when it comes to naming an Icelandic footballer then don’t feel bad; they are hardly blessed with household names.
Instead, this is an outfit that is simply greater than the sum of its parts, and their ability to shut matches down suggests they could make life very difficult for Argentina in Moscow.
In their last five World Cup qualifiers, they conceded just a single goal.
Their results in warm-up matches since have been very out of character – heavy defeats to Mexico and Peru, shipping five times combined against Norway and Ghana, but on the big stage, where they fared so well at Euro 2016, we think you’ll see a significant improvement.
They don’t offer too much going forward, and in fact Gylfi Sigurdsson’s sweet set pieces are arguably their best route to goal.
But boy, do they make life difficult for their opponents.
Argentina are a horrendously short 3/10 to win this game, and while they may do just that those odds are simply untouchable. Instead, take Iceland with a +1.50 Asian Handicap at 4/5 (1.80) with William Hill.
When we consider the side markets to plunder for our Argentina vs Iceland betting tips, one thing keeps springing to mind: goals, or a lack of them.
It seems almost maniacal to back against Messi and co from finding the net, but time and time again they have struggled to get their attacking game into gear.
And so Under 2.5 Goals, available with William Hill at 10/11 (1.91), is worthy of investment.