Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Five Things We Learned From Argentina And Iceland’s Stalemate

Iceland players celebrate while England players show dejection Iceland came from a goal down to defeat England in the 2016 European Championships Credit Laurence Griffiths Getty Images
Domingo Copeland | 17 June, 2018, 16:00

They had a lot of possession.

"Maybe we needed to be more creative in the first half - perhaps we needed some more through balls from midfield such as the one which led to the penalty". Spoken like a veteran. "I was already thinking about how I would take it". "It hurts because we deserved to win". "We need to be strong as a group, believe in ourselves and know we have all the tools to beat anybody".

You're not likely to get an argument from Messi, who will be dogged by visions of Halldorsson blocking the penalty that could have given Argentina all three points. ESPN Argentina's Nicolas Baier isn't too confident though and only thinks it will be a 1-0 win for the Albiceleste. That run included a 4-0 win over qualifying group victor Poland and a 5-1 rout of Ireland in the second leg of a two-game playoff to secure Denmark's fifth World Cup appearance and first since 2010. "They were defending; their only chances to score were from a set piece or looking for the second play". "The coach organises a team to fight but it's the players who create the chances on the pitch", he said.

And they don't just dig into the trenches, either. However, Iceland showed exactly the same commitment and self-belief as when they stunned the world with their run to the quarterfinals of the European Championship two years ago and hit back four minutes later through Alfred Finnbogason.

"It will depend on how far we go, how we're going to finish" at the finals, Messi said in an interview with Spanish daily Sport.

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"People say we celebrate when we won a point - wait and see how we celebrate when we've won a game", said Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.

Not because the 33-year-old seasoned football pro needs the money, but because the monotony of factory work, the graft, the need to cover his neat hair with an unsightly net all helped keep him real. Argentina played the Final of the 2014 edition of the event but unfortunately lost to Germany in the closing stages of the encounter. His most recent World Cup goal was in the same game when he scored a minute into stoppage time to close the first half.

Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi also linked the miss to the withdrawal from the Israel game, tweeting a poll asking "Who was happier that Messi missed his penalty today?"

"Messi misses a penalty and somehow, somewhere, I think Ronaldo may be winking", tweeted former Barcelona and England forward Gary Lineker.

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