Match Report: Argentina 1-1 Iceland – Woe for Messi as penalty miss sees Argentina drop points

first_img Marcos Rojo came charging out of the defence and with space to run forward he felt confident enough to unleash a goal bound effort. Instead of testing Halldorsson, it hit Aguero with his back to goal. The Manchester City man took a couple of steps away from his marker before turning and unleashing a thunderous effort beyond the Iceland keeper. Argentina were much smoother on the ball, as to be expected when a team contains players the calibre of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria, but there were plenty of warnings signs as well. Upd. at 20:51 Iceland really should’ve taken the lead inside ten minutes. Willy Caballero and his defenders were far too calm on the ball and Iceland’s pressure saw them steal possession and have the numbers on their more prestigious opponents. The ball was worked to Bjarnason but he couldn’t keep his composure and directed his shot wide from close range. It feels like Groundhog Day with Argentina as every World Cup the expectations are raised, there’s a feeling they’ve found the right combination this time, but ultimately it results in the same frustrations and disappointment. If Messi is to finally add the World Cup to his collection it looks like it’ll have to be the hard way. That freedom led to a key moment in the match. Messi was finding space now and Iceland were content to sit deep and let him try and find his teammates. A wonderful pass to Maximiliano Meza saw the Independiente man brought down by Magnusson. This was Messi’s opportunity to get his World Cup off to the perfect start. A chance to score the winning goal and push his country towards the one trophy they are all desperate to win. Then, in the dying embers of the match, Messi had one last chance to make a difference. His eternal rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, saved his team’s blushes with a last minute freekick. Now it was Messi’s turn. However the bearded warrior’s effort was poor and the referee immediately blew the final whistle. The ball belonged to Argentina for the majority of the first half but it wasn’t like Iceland expected anything different. They were happy to concede possession, sit back and block off Messi and the runners off the ball. This is a team which has perfected the art of frustrating their opponents into submission. 16/06/2018center_img But, as became a common trend throughout the game, Argentina were their own worst enemy. After a couple of overhit crosses from Iceland weren’t dealt with properly, a rebound fell kindly to Alfred Finnbogason who made no mistake and drew Iceland level. Messi was starting to find more freedom despite Iceland’s shackles and he tested Hannes Halldorsson with a stinging drive. However it didn’t take much longer for Argentina to get themselves ahead, although there was a bit of luck and fortunate in how the ball landed at the eventual goalscorer’s feet. CEST Sampaoli saw his midfield gamble wasn’t working and quickly introduced Ever Banega in the second half to add more creativity and lessen the burden on Messi. There were brief moments of quality but Iceland’s resilience limited Messi to long range efforts, never getting close enough to inflict the damage we all know he can. A curling effort from the edge of the box just sailed wide of the post and you began to feel it’d be one of those days for Argentina. Messi’s involvement was restricted to dropping deep to collect the ball and set pieces. The first two caused Iceland all kinds of problems but if Messi is only causing danger from set pieces, you’re doing a good job of shutting him out. Yet Messi was once again undone by his poor record from the penalty spot. Halldorsson guessed the right way and palmed the ball to safety. That was Messi’s fourth miss from his last seven spot kicks for Barcelona and Argentina. For a man who makes so much of the beautiful game look so easy, penalties continue to haunt him. Argentina’s World Cup campaign got off to a disappointing start as they were frustrated by a stubborn Iceland side and had to walk away with a solitary point. Lionel Messi missed a penalty to further compound Jorge Sampaoli’s woes.last_img

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