World Cup 2018: 3 Takeaways from Iceland's draw with Argentina
For the first time in their history, Iceland were playing in the World Cup. The small nation is not expecting much from the first-ever campaign. In Group D, they face Argentina, Nigeria, and Croatia. All their opponents are noticeably stronger and it will be hard to envisage Iceland making it to the Round of 16. However, in the team's opening match against Argentina, they held the South Americans to a crucial draw, pocketing a valuable point from the match. If they can beat either Croatia or Nigeria, it is possible for Heimir Hallgrímsson's men to advance.
Jorge Sampaoli named a strong starting eleven for his side. Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria had scored a combined 83 international goals which were more than the goals scored by the whole Iceland team. With Sergio Aguero also in the line-up, Argentina looked extremely strong in terms of attack. It did not take long for the deadlock to be broken as Aguero scored a wonderful goal from open play. In the three World Cup competitions that the Manchester City forward has participated, it was his first time scoring and he would be hoping that many more would come his way.
Iceland had come a long way before the team made it into the World Cup. With a population size of just 334,000, the country became the smallest nation to play in the competition. The team endured a difficult afternoon as they played against a talented Argentinian side. Ultimately, the team can be glad that their game plan succeeded and hopes of advancing remain. Here are three takeaways from Iceland's draw with Argentina.
#3 Iceland does not need possession to get a positive result
Argentina dominated possession and by the end of the first half, the South Americans had 80% possession of the ball. Despite having so many more shots, the score was level at 1-1. The Icelanders sat behind the ball throughout the match and soaked up all the pressure. They packed everyone in the midfield and the backline, limiting the space that the Argentines had.
Whenever Messi and his team-mates had the ball, Iceland would be sure to close down on them. Regardless of the number of fouls they had to commit, the whole team only had one aim. The aim was to keep their opponents at bay. Eventually, things worked their way and Iceland received an invaluable point from the match.
The Icelanders, themselves, had been lucky. The team was not given many chances to get into their opponent's half, but they moved the ball quickly and caught Argentina on the counter-attack. It did not take long for Finnbogason to equalize for his side and that was the final goal of the match. The 29-year-old forward wrote his name into history, becoming the first Iceland international player to score in the World Cup.