It was going to be a contest that would mark the arrival of Argentina once again on the biggest stage. It was seen as a contest that would produce an epic display of mesmerizing football from none other than fan-favorite Lionel Messi. Instead, in the end, Argentina vs Iceland became a contest that produced a rather lacklustre, dour 1-1 result as Argentina failed to go one up over Iceland.
Strange things have happened in the world of football
While a Brazil wins the mother of all sporting battles on 5 separate occasions as Germany topples fiercest rivals on 4 occasions, Argentina fails to collect important points and ends up with a draw against Iceland.
Was that that the outcome fans had expected- you already know the answer.
But it suffices to say, if you were at Russia today and watched the proceedings of supposedly a high-octane contest, you were destined to return a tad bit disconsolate.
It wasn’t that Iceland was the Goliath to Argentina’s David. It wasn’t that Iceland was expected to be mauled within the opening hour of what was to be an enthralling contest.
What everyone expected and desired, above all, was an outright Messi show. Only, in the end, there appeared a tad bit of a change in the spelling. Everyone wondered if Lionel’s team became messy having failed in defeating, arguably a weeker Iceland.
Key Lessons Learnt
Key lessons were learned at the conclusion of a fierce 90-minute contest that showed that Argentina wasn’t that big a task for Iceland, a team with a combined fan-base of only 330,000; perhaps the number of times fans chant Messi’s name during a single day.
For starters, in proving that their Euro 2016 outcome was no fluke at all, Iceland delivered a master-class (no other word would suffice) in holding up Argentina to a 1-1 draw.
A game that had no dearth in penalty strikes and shootouts toward Iceland’s goal-post would see a strong fortification of men standing up bravely to Argentina’s Lionel Messi, failing to collect the explosive, decisive shots.
What offered spice to the immediate reactions at the conclusion of the contest were Tweets and Facebook comments, seemingly extending an olive branch to a universally loved hero- some Tweets proclaiming, “are all those Youtube videos of Messi fake.”
And here’s what seemingly might have compelled fans to go that far.
In doing a repeat of the foregone opportunity of toppling Germany (4 years back in World Cup finals) as Argentina had challenged the might of Deutschland, Messi, who had endured a failed strike toward the closing stages, appeared confused this time around too.
The only thing that had changed was the goal-keeper and Argentina’s opponent, the result was the same. Then, Messi was against Manuel Neuer. This time around, his ferocious kick would meet the unbreakable defence of Icelandic Hannes Halldorsson.
In producing an Icelandic master class of brave defending, the fate of the outcome on Saturday’s key Group D contest remained unchanged from the halfway stage.
Heading into the halfway stage at 1-1, it would end that way. Fans shook, heads buried in their hands, Messi and Aguero looking confused and in all directions, you instantly knew which team had soared in spirit among Argentina and Iceland.
Here’s what made an Argentine draw appear rather slack
For starters, it wasn’t that Messi was out of touch and seemed restrained or consumed by pressure. Throughout the contest, Lionel Messi would keep coming hard at his opponents.
The passes, the dribbles and even the possession of the ball were fairly decent and inspired confidence.
You could almost sense that Messi was knocking on the door throughout the entire match. But often, Football, a game so often decided in a millisecond or a tiny fraction saw the mega hero miss out on a key chance.
As he missed a penalty kick in the second half, his teammates, constantly relied on him and you could say, a little too much.
Although here was the man who changed the complexion of the contest
Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson impressed with as many as seven saves- arguably a record that needs more celebration in future.
Even as Argentina dominated the ball with 78 percent of the possession and outshot Iceland 27-8, for some reason, the ball just wouldn’t hit the back of the net for both sides during the final hour.
This resulted in disconsolation for those who’d believed in the Argentines and a sense of retribution for Iceland who will now believe.