Argentina and Iceland will begin their World Cup campaign at the Spartak Stadium on Saturday, but who are the three players to look out for in the game?
Day Three of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will see the action continue, with teams from Groups C and D set to begin their campaigns. The big hitters in Group D, Argentina will kick off their participation in the tournament against Iceland at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on Saturday. But, who are the three players to keep a closer eye on? The Hard Tackle takes a look.
One of the golden boys of Argentinian football, Pavon has come a long way since being criticised for playing “with a bucket on his head” and is likely to grow in stature with each passing game. The Boca Juniors winger is known for his silky style of play, an electric burst of pace and some silky touches on the ball.
His ability to link up play is one of his strongest suits as well, and he is capable of playing on either flank. Most importantly though, it is the kind of maturity that he has shown since being called out for showing a lack of vision is what has impressed onlookers the most, and none more so than Lionel Messi.
The Argentina captain is believed to be a huge admirer of Pavon’s talents, and it is not surprising that Barcelona are currently tailing him too. A strong outing to begin his maiden World Cup campaign will only see these rumours grow, with Messi in need of more support in the final third.
Iceland have built their reputation on the back of being a tight-knit unit that is hard to get past at the back. But, of late, the Nordic outfit have been all over the place defensively, meaning attack will have to shoulder an additional burden, especially with Lionel Messi in menacing form.
In order for the attack to operate fluidly though, Gylfi Sigurdsson to be at his best. The Everton man will not just be part of the build-up play, setting up the chances for the rest of teammates in the final third, but he will also be an outlet himself with his proficiency on the dead ball.
Argentina should be wary of conceding any free-kicks around the 25 yard area as Sigurdsson rarely needs a second invitation to find the back of the net from that sort of area. The most pivotal player for Iceland, if they are to repeat the heroics of Euro 2016.
Tagliafico has made quite a splash after joining Ajax from Independiente earlier this year in January. The 25-year-old had led the Argentine outfit to the Copa Sudamericana in 2017, thereby not only bringing a winning mentality to the side, but also some much needed leadership qualities.
Arriving in Europe as the “New Javier Zanetti”, there was a lot of hype surrounding him when he joined Ajax, and he has not disappointed so far. With sound defensive acumen, the left-back will shore up a vulnerable defensive line, but he will be an even bigger factor in the final third.
An enterprising full-back, his lung-busting runs will take some pressure off Messi and Angel Di Maria. His delivery will play a key role in setting up Sergio Aguero inside the Iceland box. Certainly one player to keep an eye on, not just for Saturday, but throughout the tournament.