The third day of World Cup (WC) football brings us the first matches from Group D. Argentina face off against minnows Iceland, while Croatia and Nigeria play later in the day.
It will be the first time in history that Argentina have faced Iceland, and by some way the contrasts between the teams are huge. Argentina (population of 44 million) are ready for their 17th WC, while Iceland (population of 350,000!) are playing in their first.
Argentina finished third in the CONMEBOL qualifying, but had to wait untill the last round of qualifying matches to confirm their place in these finals. The team have continued to look a bit shaky in the friendlies leading up to the WC, losing 4-2 against Nigeria and 6-1 against Spain either side of a 2-0 win against Italy.
Iceland, however, impressively won their qualifying group – finishing ahead of their WC group partners Croatia. They did so on a foundation of solid defending (seven conceded in ten games). Preparing for the WC however, they’ve conceded 11 goals in their last four matches.
Two-time winners and five-time finalists Argentina will be on the hunt for a winning start – can the Icelandic Vikings withstand Lionel Messi and his men?
Players to watch: Messi is hunting records this WC. He needs six more appearances to match Diego Maradona and five more goals to tie with Gabriel Batistuta for Argentina.
Iceland’s top scorer from the qualifiers, Gylfi Sigurdsson (four goals), has recovered from injury just in time for the finals.
Stat attack: Iceland have conceded 2+ goals in four straight matches and have kept a clean sheet in just one of the last eight.
In the 2014 WC, five of Argentina’s seven matches (losing finalist) ended under 1.5 goals.
In Euro 2016, Iceland’s only other appearance in a major tournament (quarter-finals), both teams scored in all five of their matches.