Argentina vs Iceland
Venue: Spartak Stadium
Kick off: 2PM
Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates kick off their World Cup campaign against Iceland in Moscow this afternoon.
England’s Euro 2016 conquerors are making their World Cup debut and boss Heimir Hallgrimsson has labelled the Group D opener against Messi and co as “the biggest game in the history of Icelandic football”.
Hallgrimsson, a dentist by trade, told a pre-match press conference: “Everyone wants to play. This is the biggest game in the history of Icelandic football and it’s a headache which our training team has to work on.”
“Regarding Messi, I don’t have a magic formula. Everybody has tried everything against him and he always manages to score. He is one of the best players in the world.
“I’ve said it would be unfair to give a player the role of marking Messi. We will (play against him) like everything we do, we’ll do it together. We’ll help each other and try to do it as a team.”
Two-time champions Argentina arrived in Russia dogged by poor form, injuries and controversy, their final warm-up against Israel in Jerusalem cancelled after Palestinian protests.
Messi is a man on a mission as he chases his first World Cup winner’s medal and, while accusing Argentina of over-reliance on the Barcelona star may seem unfair to a team boasting the attacking talents of Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain, it is a view coach Jorge Sampaoli has expressed himself.
“He can carry the team on his shoulders,” Sampaoli said of the player who scored 45 goals in 54 games for Barcelona last season. “This is going to be his team.”