Iceland's hero keeper did homework to psych out Messi

Gylffi Sigurdsson

Croatia and Nigeria are bound to pose challenges of their own.

Despite showing promise going forward, left-back Nicolas Tagliafico was making just his fifth worldwide start and along with the centre-backs, was part of a defence that shipped six goals in a friendly against Spain in March. With each empty possession, he paced and growled, his arms in a constant state of tension.

In yet another historic day for the Icelandic Football team, Argentina was held to a 1-1 draw by the tournament debutants at the Spartak stadium tonight.

Sergio Aguero had put them ahead in the 19th minute, turning and firing from 14 yards to find the upper left side of the net. They were given multiple chances to clear and the ball would eventually fall to the feet of Augsburg's Alfred Finnbogason who duly finished to send the Icelandic hordes in Russian Federation and at home insane.

Right-back Eduardo Salvio has spent most of his career playing as a winger for Benfica and while playing wingers at full-back in a five-man defence has been a developing trend in recent seasons, the perils of doing it in a back-four were on display against Iceland.

"I think the Argentinians felt a bit frustrated that they weren't getting through and it was important we equalized so quickly".

Iceland's Hannes Por Halldorsson in action.

"He's very fit, well prepared and looking forward to this World Cup and he hopes to be able to achieve his dream", he said. And Halldorsson was prepared.

Lionel Messi is both Argentina's greatest weapon and their biggest weakness.

The 34-year-old part-time video director said: "I did some homework because I knew it was a situation that could come up". The penalty miss with the game there for the taking will haunt him but it shouldn't entirely come as a surprise, as he has scored only three of the last seven penalties he has taken for club and country. "I had a good feeling he would go that way".

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The penalty bid was consistent with Messi's off-day.

That freedom led to a key moment in the match.

Iceland also protected Halldorsson with swarming runs and tackling to shut down Messi and Argentina's attacking lanes. In front of him, 11 Icelanders stood in his way.

"I tried to get in their minds, so they'd be thinking about me".

"We wanted to start by winning because that would have calmed us.The idea is the same, we have to win the next two games. We deserve to be here". "For everyone, it is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than play in a different way and don't achieve anything".

And finally, arguably the two best players in the world, Messi and Ronaldo will always play their personal battle even if the two players aren't really competing. "We have some days to rest and get well-prepared for the match", said the skipper.

Iceland debuted at a major tournament in 2016. He called it a "small mentality".

Does he cite Iceland's defensive play? Yes.

The match went on to finish 1-1 as Iceland made a fine fist of defending deep, though Halldorsson was forced to pull off another outstanding save from substitute Cristian Pavon late on to keep it that way.

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