88 years of hurt are over. World Cup fever has gripped the nation. Icelanders are driving in Lada Nivas to Russia. Cancelling their weddings to watch the game, “HÚH!” burger buns in hand. The viking horde are frothing at the mouth, and Messi quivering beneath his bed.
The time is nigh. Seize the moment. Seize the day. Seize some Russian territory and get the empire started. Do it for the forefathers who bore the cold, wind and rain. Do it for the puffins, the minke whales and all the cats in Reykjavík. Do it for Iceland. Charge at Argentina and leave nothing out there on the pitch. DEATH OR GLORY!!!
The headline news, as reported by Grapevine, is that Aron Gunnarsson is ready to start tomorrow. In truth, Iceland’s beating heart would probably have made himself available from six feet under for a game of such magnitude, but the news still represents a huge boost for our boys before the Group D opener.
With Aron off the treatment table, our boys will line-up in a 4-5-1 formation; Gylfi at the tip of a midfield iceberg, supporting either Alfreð Finnbogason or Jón Daði Böðvarsson. Since the former has two goals in his last two internationals, he is likely to be trusted ahead of Jón Daði, whose athleticism and physicality have failed to procure goals on the international stage of late.
Otherwise, there are no real selection dilemmas for Heimir to pore over, as our boys aim to blunt Messi and co by packing the midfield and maintaining a rigid defensive shape. In today’s press conference, “The Darth Dentist” also reiterated the importance of offensive set-pieces; Gylfi Sigurðsson and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson’s quality deliveries will be a crucial, as well as Aron and Hörður Björgvin Magnússon arrowing long-throws.
Argentina’s World Cup preparations have made Spain’s look utopian. Before the final squad was even announced, players were dropping like flies and the trend continued afterwards, as likely starter Manuel Lanzini ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in training. Any chance to hone their system without Lanzini was then thwarted by the Argentine Football Association’s decision to give way to player unrest and cancel the team’s scheduled friendly against Israel.
The postponement also inadvertently prevented Franco Armani from staking his claim as the number one goalkeeper after Sergio Romero’s omission due to injury and, worse still, Romero has now publicly stated that he could have been fit for his side’s opener against our boys. Ouch.
The Argentine circus looked set to continue where tactics were concerned, with rumours circulating that La Albiceleste would opt for a mind-boggling 2-3-3-2 Fifa custom formation. However, Argentinian football expert Peter Coates has since suggested that Jorge Sampaoli will err on the side of caution in his side’s Group D opener against our boys instead.
In the mooted team, which will be organised into a 4-2-3-1 formation, there is no room for Messrs Dybala and Higuaín. That is good news for Independiente midfielder Maximiliano Meza, who is preferred alongside Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María and Sergio Agüero. Chelsea’s Willy Caballero will likely start in goal, while PSG’s Giovani Lo Celso and Sevillia’s Éver Banega are also set to miss out.
What’s written in the entrails?
We’re overcome by World Cup mania and we reckon our boys are going to cause a mighty stir tomorrow. Gylfi is going to blast one in in the last ten minutes and mark the beginning of the end of Messi’s international career.
The result? Argentina 0-1 Aron Einar’s Barmy Army.
How will the horde line up?
Hannes Þór Halldórsson, Randers
Hörður Björgvin Magnússon, Bristol
Kári Árnason, Aberdeen
Ragnar Sigurðsson, Rostov
Birkir Már Sævarsson, Valur
Emil Hallfreðsson, Udinese
Aron Einar Gunnarsson, Cardiff
Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Burnley
Birkir Bjarnason, Aston Villa
Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, Everton
Alfreð Finnbogason, Augsburg
Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Rostov
Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson, Levski Sofia
Ari Freyr Skúlason, Lokeren
Rúrik Gíslason, Sandhausen
Jón Daði Böðvarsson, Reading
Björn Bergmann Sigurðarson, Rostov
How will Argentina line-up?
Willy Caballero, Chelsea
Eduardo Salvio, Benfica
Nicolás Otamendi, Manchester City
Marcos Rojo, Manchester United
Nicolás Tagliafico, Ajax
Javier Mascherano, Hebei China Fortune
Lucas Biglia, AC Milan
Maximiliano Meza, Independiente
Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Ángel Di María, PSG
Sergio Agüero, Manchester City
Federico Fazio, Roma
Éver Banega, Sevilla
Cristian Pavón, Boca Juniors
Giovani Lo Celso, PSG
Gonzalo Higuaín, Juventus
Paulo Dybala, Juventus