The 2018 FIFA World Cup continues Saturday as as Lionel Messi and Argentina kick off their opener against first-time participants, Iceland. Iceland finished right above fellow Group D competitor, Croatia, during the qualifying rounds. Iceland is now the smallest-ever nation to reach the World Cup.
Let’s take a closer look at where the value’s at in this match.
What to Watch For
Betting on the Draw: Odds — at 5.09 — indicate there’s a 19.6 percent chance of a draw. AccuScore sims, however, have a draw in 21.5 percent of matches, suggesting some added value on the draw.
The average score in sims is 2.1 – 0.78, in favor of Argentina.
Iceland’s Attack: Iceland has proven itself to be reckoned with, especially on the defensive end. As such, their counter-attack is a weapon and could make an impact in Group D. They have some Premier League talent in Everton’s Gylfi Sigurðsson , not to mention Berg Gudmundsson and Aron Gunnarsson. How productive Iceland is in this tournament will largely be determine by Sigurðsson’s play.
Sigurðsson averages 1.02 shots overall in the sims for this matchup, and has just a nine percent chance to score in the team’s opener.
Iceland’s X-Factor: Burnely winger Johann Berg Guðmundsson will be someone to keep an eye out following his club side’s surprising seventh-place finish in the Premier League. He scored two goals and assisted on eight others last season, and he could prove to be a deadly weapon along the likes of of Alfreð Finnbogason and Sigurðsson
La Pulga’s Last Chance: With Messi turning 31 this summer, many fans and media members alike think this could be the soccer legend’s last chance to win the World Cup. Messi put Argentina on his back in a must-win match in the qualifying rounds vs Ecuador, recording a hat trick in a 3-1 win. Barcelona was knocked out a little earlier than expected in the UEFA Champions League, and the extra rest should prove to be useful for Jorge Sampaoli’s side.
Alfreð Finnbogason leads the way for Iceland in AccuScore simulations with a 28 percent chance of netting the ball vs Argentina. Finnbogason averages 1.61 shots overall per sim, 0.62 shots on goal per, and 0.33 goals per sim. Second behind him for Iceland is Jon Dadi Bödvarsson with approximately a 12 percent chance of scoring.
For Argentina, it’s none other than Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero leading the way — each with over a 43 percent chance of scoring in their opener. Messi averages 5-plus shots overall per sim, 2.51 shots on goal per, and 0.62 goals per sim; Agüero averages three-to-four shots overall, 1.62 shots on goal per, and 0.57 goals per sim.
OVER 2.5 goals.
The odds — at 2.11 — indicate there’s a 47.4 percent chance the total combined score goes above 2.5 goals. It does so in 54 percent of AccuScore sims, suggesting some value on the pick. The average combined goal total in AccuScore sims is 2.88 goals.