Argentina, complete with Lionel Messi, were held to a 1-1 draw in the first Group D game of the World Cup.
The outcome was one that could impact on the chances of Nigeria’s Super Eagles qualifying for the knock out stages.
Newslegend.com.ng’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI takes a look at the four things learned from this cracking match between Nigeria’s other group opponents and how the Eagles must take note of likely loopholes…
- Iceland’s Pressing Game
The Icelandic side matched the Argentines physically when there was need to take the game to the two time world champions.
Iceland were snappy at the tackles and defended bullishly. Lionel Messi certainly had one of his most difficult matches of 2018. He was at the receiving end of some hard tackles.
- Halldorsson’s Fantastic Saves; Ball Distribution Goes ‘Left’
Goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson was in good form against Argentina. The shot stopper saved a Lionel Messi penalty and a rasping shot by Cristian Pavon.
The Iceland’s keeper’s distribution however is suspect.
His long punts with right foot usually went to the middle of the field, close to the line and not further, closer to the opposition box. He sometimes rushed his throws as well and that is something the Eagles midfielders could look to exploit and release the strikers.
- Debutants’ Good First Outings
Nigeria thrashed Bulgaria 3-0 in their debut match at the FIFA World Cup in USA 94 while Senegal defeated France 1-0 in their first World Cup outing in Korea/Japan 2002.
Cameroon pipped then world champions Argentina containing Diego Maradona 1-0 in the opening match of Italia 90.
Iceland’s draw with Argentina Saturday evening felt like a win for the debutants and that clearly shows that the supposedly ‘lesser’ teams cannot be disrespected.
- Unlikely Threats From Argentina’s Set Pieces
The Super Eagles have had difficulties dealing with set pieces and when they face Argentina not only will the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain be the natural suspects to score, there will be added threats from their defenders.
The first attempt to score from the corner kick in the match between Argentina and Iceland came from a bullet header by Man City defender Nikolas Otamendi.
The Eagles must device means of defending freekicks and corners.
The deceptive concept of putting the ball under the feet of players standing on the wall when they jump up on freekicks, not taking cognisance of cut backs, runners coning from behind to head or shot must all be noted.