Current FIFA Rankings: 5
Appearance in the World Cup: 17th time in 2018
World Cup 2014: Runners-up
Argentina is one of the two teams, that the Bangladeshi fans have gone crazy over during the time of the World Cup. Argentina, the champion of 1978 and 86, almost won another in the last World Cup. That one goal they had conceded in the very last minute of the last World Cup final, destroyed their dream of another World Cup Title. But they are still on top of the list of favourites for this year.
Argentina was in the centre-point of all the dramatic turns in the Latin America qualifiers. For the first time since 1970, the apprehension of not getting a chance in the World Cup finals was browbeating on the Albiceleste.
Argentina started their World Cup qualifying round with a defeat against Ecuador at home. However, Messi’s team has been able to beat Ecuador in the away game of the final round of the World Cup qualifiers and confirmed the World Cup tickets to Russia.
Lionel Messi, one of the greatest player of all time, is carrying the hope of his nation on his shoulders for the past 12 years. But while he was not been able to win a single trophy with the national team, this magician announced his retirement from the national team after the defeat of the 2016 Copa America final. Messi, however, quickly changed his decision and again went back to the field with the skyish-white jersey.
This great sorcerer of football will celebrate his 31st birthday during this World Cup. So, he is aiming this as the last opportunity to have a World Cup title next to his name. Furthermore, this legendary fellow has also ensured that he is not going to leave Argentina’s national side if his team will fail to do something exceptional in this World Cup.
In addition to Messi, the attacking department of this Argentine squad is crowded with world-class stars. Mauro Icardi was the second top scorer from Serie A in this season. His dropout will help you to understand the strong attackers of this team. And just like Messi, Angel di Maria is the symbol of Argentina’s midfield dependency.
They also have veterans like Mascherano and Otamendi at the defence. In fact, I must admit this Argentine team is a well balanced and potential team for the World Cup. However, the absence of the experienced goalkeeper Romero, who was knocked out of the team due to injuries in the last moment, is something the coach Jorge Sampoli should worry about.
Argentina World Cup Squad
GOALKEEPERS: Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres).
DEFENDERS: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino).
MIDFIELDERS: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di María, Giovani Lo Celso (both Paris St-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica).
FORWARDS: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala (both Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).
Only time can say that, whether Argentina will be able to make an end to their 32 years wait for World Cup or not. But to overcome this situation, the Argentine team will have to focus on the overall performance of the team by reducing the dependence on Messi.
Current FIFA Rankings: 22
Appearance in World Cup: 1st time in 2018
World Cup 2014: Did not qualify
Iceland is one of the wonders of the Russia World Cup. Although, Iceland, the first-time contender in the World cup finals, has announced their existence in the international football arena in the 2016 Euro. Iceland, the nation of only 350000 people, reached to the quarter-final of that composition, which was their first ever major tournament.
This North-Eastern European country has been able to qualify for the World Cup as a top-seed pick from I Group in Europe’s World Cup qualifying. They have the least number of people as a nation to qualify for the World Cup finals. Maximum of players from the Iceland team is not professional footballers. Most of the players play football as their hobby. Even their coach, Haimir Hallgrimsson, is a dentist, who also has an active dental clinic in Iceland.
Everton Midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson is the biggest star of the Icelandic team. He will be assisted by his team captain Einar Gunnarsson. The couch will mostly depend on this duo to execute the attacking plans. Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kari Arnason will be in charge of the defence. And as a goalkeeper, Hannes Halldorsson would have been a valuable asset to the team.
Iceland World Cup Squad
GOALKEEPERS: Hannes Halldorsson (Randers), Runar Alex Runarsson (Nordsjaelland), Frederik Schram (Roskilde).
DEFENDERS: Ari Freyr Skulason (Lokeren), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Ragnar Sigurdsson (Rostov), Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson (Levski Sofia), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Rostov), Birkir Mar Saevarsson (Valur), Samuel Kari Fridjonsson (Valerenga).
MIDFIELDERS: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Olafur Ingi Skulason (Karabukspor), Arnor Ingvi Traustason (Malmo), Rurik Gislason (Sandhausen).
FORWARDS: Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson (Rostov), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV Eindhoven).
Now it’s time to see how far will Iceland go in Russia World Cup as a member of a solid group like Group D. However, along with the skill, their strong mentality also seems to work as a very helpful force for this race.