By Thomas Strong
Last Updated: 17th June 2018
Leo Messi failed to make his mark on Argentina’s opening World Cup group game, missing a penalty in the 1-1 draw against world cup minnows Iceland.
Argentina’s shining light Sergio Aguero carried his Premier league form straight into their opening World Cup 2018 game with a brilliant solo effort, swerving through the Iceland defence before executing a curling finish that Manchester City fans have seen time after time .
Iceland levelled minutes later, with Alfred Finnbogason capitalising on some shoddy Argentinian defending. The valiant World Cup debutants held on for a draw in this historic result for Strákarnir okkar.
The hype will always be around Lionel Messi regardless of what happens, and comparisons of his brilliance against that of his La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo will never be far away Following Ronaldo’s performance last night against Spain, the footballing world instantly had their eyes on Messi.
Two years ago, England felt the sting of this resolute Iceland team – a hardworking, organised outfit built round the quality of playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson. Iceland’s 26% possession at half time told a similar tale of backs-to-the-wall defending, whereas they failed to secure a shot on target in the second half. Argentina were left relying on another moment of brilliance from their star player to break down Iceland. On this occasion, Messi came up short, missing the fourth penalty in the last seven attempts for club and country.
Messi had 11 shots in total in this match, more than in any of his previous appearances at the World Cup. One missed penalty will never be enough to count out “Messidona”, or “La Pulga” as he is also known, and he will be determined to bounce back for the Albiceleste in their next group C match against Croatia.
With an abundance of attacking talent including Aguero, Di Maria, Higuain, Argentina are good enough to beat anyone at this 2018 World Cup without relying on Messi the maestro. Their defensive frailties remain, and they will need to respond quickly if they are to progress from the Group of Death.