Argentina vs. Iceland: Pressure Is on the South Americans in the World Cup

Argentina vs. Iceland: Pressure Is on the South Americans in the World Cup article feature image

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Argentina vs. Iceland, 9 a.m. ET Saturday, FOX

  • Argentina -280
  • Iceland +1053
  • Draw +411

Bet To Watch: 

Argentina -1.5 goals (+115)

Argentina enters the 2018 World Cup with loaded expectations, but will have to navigate it one game at a time in a difficult Group D. They were less than perfect in 2014 and nearly beat Germany in extra time of the final, so Leo Messi and company will want redemption. At +950, they have the fifth-best odds to lift the trophy, and begin the group stage as -280 favorites to beat Iceland in their first head-to-head meeting.

The South American squad has been hampered by recent injuries, including starting goalie Sergio Romero and midfielder Manuel Lanzini, who have been replaced by Willy Caballero and Enzo Perez, respectively. The key man is obviously Messi, but in reality the pressure is on the defenders and midfielders to get him the ball in prime positions. They’ve got plenty of scoring options up top with Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, it’s just a matter of how head coach Jorge Sampaoli will use them all. The potential for everything to come together is still there.

Iceland comes in with less external pressure, but will still have internal pressure to progress. They won their European qualifying group and made a quarterfinal run at Euro 2016, so expectations are high. They’re the smallest nation (population-wise) to ever reach a World Cup but still have aspirations of reaching the next round. However, odds aren’t exactly in their favor as they’re +1038 to pull off the upset over Argentina and +411 to draw.

With the moneylines so high, it’s no surprise to see public bettors on Argentina (76% moneyline, 80% spread). They can’t afford a slow start in this group and absolutely need to win the opener, and they won’t be underestimating the Europeans. Iceland will also have to take some chances if they go down early, so I’m banking on Argentina to win by multiple goals. At -1.5 (+115), it’s not exactly a contrarian pick, but I expect the odds to rise until kickoff so the value is there.

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