Iceland, who will appear in the FIFA World Cup for the first time in history are comfortable training in the warm weather of Gelendzhik, Russia. Till now, they have been the only team who have stayed in the region and received preferential treatment from Russian fans who are enjoying the vacation.
They will soon be joined by Sweden though, the only other team who have chosen to reside in Gelendzhik, built on the shores of the Black Sea.
As they prepare, Iceland have only one thing on their mind — Lionel Messi, the best in the world.
Iceland did experience playing against Cristiano Ronaldo during an exciting Euro 2016 campaign as they drew against Portugal and also made it into the quarterfinals of the tournament. Now, they are hopeful causing an upset in their opening fixture and their first ever World Cup match against Argentina.
“It’s football, anything can happen … we know it will be complicated, but we are confident in being able to continue taking the steps we took in recent years, we know that Argentina are one of the best teams in the World Cup, but we will see. “, Ragnar Sidgurdsson told La Nacion.
Sidgurdsson, who plays as a centre-back, have the difficult task of stopping Messi and said: “It’s exciting to play against Messi, I never faced him and I do not know if anyone on the team ever did, but it’s not just him, Argentina has many good players … we have to prepare for anything.”
“We all know he’s the best in the world, when we have the ball we’ll have to be more focused and be more careful than ever, but we’re 11, we’ll have to play as a team,” he analyzed.
The goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson meanwhile suggested that planning against Messi could be futile as a goalkeeper because of the unpredictable nature of the Argentine genius.
“To face Messi you have to be as good as you can, you can not plan, he’s a very difficult player to decipher,” he said.
Experienced 33-year-old Birkir Saevarsson meanwhile did not reveal much about the marking scheme but hoped they will be successful. “We have a plan to mark him, we hope we will be successful”, he said.