Jorge Sampaoli not underestimating Iceland ahead of the opener

Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has stressed that he is not underestimating the strength of Iceland after deciding to announce the starting line-up, a day before the encounter. The pair are expected to tussle during the opening World Cup game in Group D and Sampaoli has explained that he does not need to hide the line-up which has supposedly been leaked.

He said: “No, no, no, the reason why we have named our team in advance is because we knew since Wednesday what we wanted to do.I’ve told you today because we have trained with the starting XI and I don’t believe it’s necessary to hide this information.We know Iceland’s main man, their captain [Aron Gunnarsson], is recovering from injury but they play well as a group and I’m sure it’s going to be very tough against them.They defend in depth and will probably play on the counter attack. Iceland will be a tough team to beat.”

On paper, Argentina are just too strong for their opponents but based on Iceland’s showing at Euro 2016, Sampaoli won’t take them likely. Barring Gylfi Sigurdsson and skipper Gunnarsson, Iceland were a team of more or less unknowns prior to the tournament in France and they managed to build their reputation with a shock 2-1 win over England.

Since then, Iceland have managed to qualify for the maiden World Cup whilst being the smallest populated country to do so and they have nothing to prove to the supporters back home. As a result, the pressure will certainly be on Argentina, who are expected to secure a comfortable win over Iceland and anything less than that may generate criticism towards them. Cristiano Ronaldo has already laid the mark at the World Cup with a hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-3 against Spain and the neutrals will be expecting a somewhat similar performance from Lionel Messi on Saturday.