Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press
Iceland faces a daunting task when they make their World Cup debut on Saturday in a Group D matchup with Argentina at Otkritie Arena in Moscow. The Nordic squad hopes to duplicate their magical run at Euro 2016, where they marched to the quarterfinals in their first-ever tournament appearance.
However, all the pressure will be on heavily favored Argentina, who have failed to claim a major international tournament victory since their win at the 1993 Copa America.
World Cup betting line: Argentina opened as a -245 favorite (wager $ 245 to win $ 100); the total is at 2.5 goals, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
World Cup betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 1.8-1.4, Argentina (2018 World Cup picks on every game)
Check out the OddsShark FC podcast at OddsSharkFC.libsyn.com for more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top World Cup betting news.
Argentina vs. Iceland World Cup matchup analysis
Saturday marks the first-ever meeting between these two sides.
Iceland continued their ascension into the ranks of European soccer powerhouses with a strong run through UEFA World Cup qualifying, tallying a 7-1-2 win-draw-loss record in Group I action. However, the Nordics have endured a letdown since closing out qualifying with three straight clean-sheet wins, going 2-2-4 in eight friendlies, including losses to a pair of World Cup-bound sides, Mexico and Peru.
An otherwise stingy Iceland defense has surrendered a worrisome 11 total goals in the squad’s past four outings, and blew leads in their final two pre-tournament matches, settling for a 2-2 draw with Ghana as +155 favorites on June 7 after storming to a first-half 2-0 lead, and allowing two goals after the 80th minute in a humbling 3-2 loss to rival Norway as +140 chalk on June 2.
Nothing short of domination will be acceptable for Argentina in Saturday’s contest. La Albiceleste routed Haiti 4-0 as massive -2500 chalk in their final pre-tournament friendly on May 29, but have struggled with consistency since last summer. The Argentines have recorded consecutive wins just once during a 4-3-2 run, including stunning lopsided losses to Nigeria and Spain in recent friendly action.
However, Argentina is unbeaten in group stage play in their past three World Cup appearances, compiling an impressive 8-1-0 record since Germany 2006, including four clean-sheet victories.
All 2018 World Cup odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week’s top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.