World Cup 2018: Argentina vs Iceland; Everything you need to know about Match 6
The second kick-off of the day will see the first match of Group D, featuring last year's finalists Argentina and last year's giant killers Iceland facing off against one another at the Spartak stadium in Moscow.
Group D, considered by many to be the Group of Death of this year's World Cup, might live up to its potential if anything other than an Argentina win happens in this game. Iceland will be happy to get back home with no points in their first WC ever, but a point here and the Vikings will smell blood.
If momentum is what matters, Iceland will be delighted for they are still riding out that wave of upsetting England, while the Albiceleste are still nursing their bruises from losing 3 finals on the trot.
Here's everything you need to know about Match 6 of the World Cup, scheduled to kick off at 18:30 hours IST:
FIFA ranking: 5
Coach: Jorge Sampaoli
Captain: Lionel Messi
Any previous edition's finalist would be a clear favorite for the next WC, but that is not the case with Argentina. After a below-par qualifying run that had to be rescued by their captain, they are on sane pundit's radar to go all the way.
The squad is a major headache for Sampaoli, as it is stacked in some positions while being criminally understaffed in some. The compromise is a shocking mix of youth with no experience whatsoever and experience which is ripe into the age of retirement.
After Romero's injury, the keeper position is also something of a concern. Caballero has not played much at Chelsea, while Armani is yet to make his debut. Newly called up Guzman is eccentric, and not in the good way. Armani is most fans' pick to start in goal, but you never know.
Otamendi and Roma's Fazio are the recognised pair of CBs, and should start. But like the rest of their team, they tend to alternate between horrible and Godin-like, but there is not enough of a depth to see them out.
Tagliafico and Mercado are the full-backs, and both have had excellent seasons for their clubs. The two are also prone to joining the team in attack, and are good enough to but it leaves their centre backs with too much to do.
The midfield is the case of worry. While Mascarenho is a legend in his own right, his legs are shot and playing him will definitely mean that the midfield gets bypassed. The alternative is to play Banega there, along with Lo Celso.
Lo Celso has established himself a starter in PSG, and is extremely hardworking and intelligent. It should be him that has to help out the defense, while Banega plays the role of the anchor and intercepts the ball.
The loss of Lanzini complicates things on the right. Meza could start there, after Samapoli praised him during his performance in Argentina's 1-6 loss to Spain, or we might see Pavon start there instead. Pavon exhibited great chemistry with Messi in the recent friendlies, and that might prove enough.
The rest of the positions should be straight-forward enough. Messi as the No.10, Aguero as the sole striker, and Di Maria on the left - which leaves out Dybala. The alternative is to play Messi on the right and Dybala as the No.10, but that will not be making the best use of the best player in the world.
Higuain looked rusty during the friendlies, so he is not expected to be of much competition to Aguero - who by the way, is yet to score his first goal in the WC. You learn something new every day.
FIFA ranking: 22
Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson
Captain: Aron Gunnarsson
With the famous Viking Clap still ringing in our ears, Iceland pulled off another miracle when they managed to qualify to the WC - their first WC ever. Iceland are not expected to get out of the group, but as the English would like to remind you, do not believe the lies.
Their part-time dentist coach has drilled the team really well, and they are very organized and hard to break down. The problem will be the injuries, as some of their key players are back just in time for the WC and without much match-practice.
Halldorsson, who moonlights as a film director, is the keeper of the squad and is most likely to start. Arnason and Sigurdsson are the two centre backs in front of him, and for good reason. Sigurdsson was the one responsible for Iceland's equaliser against England, and Arnason is capable of launching long balls into the opposition box with his bare hands.
Saevarsson, the only player in the team to play his club football in Iceland is old but preferred at the right-back position. On the left is Magnusson, who was responsible for the winning goal against group mates Croatia in qualifying.
Captain Gunnarsson - thrower of long balls and who has a tattoo of the Iceland flag on his back, will play as the DM along with Hallfredsson, who will take on the role of regista. Flanking on either side of them will be Burnley sensation Gudmundsson and Aston Villa's Bjarnason.
If Sigurdsson is fit, he will start as the No.10 and the whole of Iceland will be hoping that he is. He is their main creative force, and while Gudmundsson can help out, Sigurdsson fits the team better when there is a target man upfront.
The striker position is up for grabs, between Bodvarsson who plays for Reading and will spend 90 minutes on the pitch running if you ask him to, and Finnbogason who is a polyglot and fluent in 5 languages. After impressing in the Eredivise and now with Augsburg, he is a frequent scorer with excellent finishing.
Bookies odds (crownbet):
Prediction: While Argentina are rusty, it is hard to see them outright losing here. Iceland has the quality, so it should be a close 2-1 win for Argentina.