After Ronaldo’s cracker of a performance in the opening game of Portugal everyone was expecting Messi to add to the competition but his game against Iceland was never up to the standards. The Argentine and Messi fans just waited and waited, but they never got what they came for. Iceland was participating in the world cup for the first time and they played fearlessly. Though were unable to create chances for them but they didn’t gave chances to their opponents as well. When everyone else was expecting Messi to be the best player but it was Iceland’s goalkeeper Halldorsson outperformed the opponents attackers to emerge as one of the best players.
Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson used his defensive line intelligently leaving little room for Messi to slip in. Messi then shifted to the right flank and tried piercing the defense just as Arjen Robben does and if not able to steer in the box he even tried to earn free kicks. He earned three and all around the Ronaldo range but was not able to convert them. Messi only managed to strike the wall, on each of the three occasions.
In the 19th minute Argentina scored the opener. Sergio Aguero takes the possession of the long range effort by Marcus Rojo. He turned around the defender & smashed the ball in the top corner of the net. The celebration was not for a long time. Iceland equalized just after 4 minutes & in 23rd minute the socre was 1-1. Sigurdsson hits a ball towards the goal, which Caballero could only put it into the path of Finnbogason who tapped home comfortably. Now we have Aguero’s & Iceland’s first ever World Cup Goal in just few minutes. There were just 4 minutes and 15 seconds between Argentina taking the lead and Iceland’s equalizer.
More to add to the Messi’s sorrows came in the 64th minute when his intelligent pass over the Iceland defender to Meza earned his team a penalty and Messi was unable to convert it as well. The visionary pass for Meza, who was making the run behind the retreating defense was tackled by Hordur Magnusson and Referee points towards the penalty spot. Messi steps up to take it but it was a poor attempt. Hannes Halldorsson read it correctly and palmed it away. This wasn’t the Messi one sees in a Blaugrana shirt. The energy and the involvement was missing from his game.
That missed penalty didn’t change their style play. Argentina still looked up to winning the game & it looked like a goal will definitely be scored before the final whistle. For all the possession Argentina have had, the scoreboard was not showing the true picture. Argentina had a ball possession of 78% but their conversion rate ruined it for them. They had 27 shots of which only 7 was on target and 1 was converted. They made 674 passes which was 5 times as compared to Iceland’s and had a 90% success rate in passing. Messi had 11 shots in the game but couldn’t score. All these stats helped World Cup debutants to hold Messi & Co. for a draw.
Plenty of attacks, plenty of tackles but still no sign of a winning goal. Messi tried to make his way through the Iceland defense but there was no room to work with. It was like a sea of bodies was blocking it’s path. Sampaoli’s three substitutions hardly made any difference. It was hard to understand why Meza got a start and Ever Banega was called when the water level had crossed the danger mark and also not giving a chance to Pablo Dybala. They’ve thrown everything forward but have created very little. A lot was expected from the runners up from 2014 but it was disappointing. And it was the final whistle. FULL-TIME! ARGENTINA 1-1 ICELAND.
The coach was the first to disappear into the tunnel after the match, almost forgetting to shake hands with the Iceland coach who came running to perform the last rituals. Messi was the last to leave, untucking the Argentina shirt half way up his torso to wipe the sweat.It’s a win for the Iceland to share points with Argentina. Iceland get a historic result as the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup take a point off Argentina. Pressure will be on Argentina after this performance ahead of their next game against Croatia, while Iceland will fancy their chances of encashing this result and advancing out of the group stages.
After this upsetting performance let’s look forward to the upcoming games:
- Brazil vs Switzerland (Group E)
- Germany vs Mexico (Group F)