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Argentina versus Iceland World Cup starting line-ups

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Argentina’s head coach Jorge Sampaoli (L) and defender Nicolas Tagliafico attend a press conference at Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 14, 2018, ahead of the match between Argentina and Iceland during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / YURI CORTEZ

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli opted for Sergio Aguero ahead of Gonzalo Higuain Saturday to play up front with skipper Lionel Messi in the Group D opener against World Cup debutants Iceland.

However, all eyes will be on Messi, who will be under pressure to respond after fierce rival Cristiano Ronald struck a hat-trick for Portugal to rescue a draw against Spain late Friday.

Manchester City’s Aguero missed the end of the Premier League season with a knee injury, but Sampaoli deemed him fit enough to start over Higuain, who critics say is yet to produce his best for the national team.

Chelsea’s reserve keeper Wilfredo Caballero starts in goal after Manchester United’s Sergio Romero was ruled out of the tournament in Russia with an injury.

As expected, Iceland captain Aron Gunnarsson is fully recovered from knee surgery in late April and will add defensive steel to the midfield.

The minnows’ main attacking threat, Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, also starts in midfield after returning from injury and will look to link up with sole forward Alfred Finnbogason of Augsburg.

Striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who scored the goal that knocked England out of Euro 2016, did not make it to Russia due to a long-term injury.

But coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said this week that all of his 23-man squad at the finals were fit and raring to go for the biggest match in Iceland’s history.

Starting line-ups for the World Cup Group D match between Argentina and Iceland at Spartak Stadium in Moscow on Saturday (0100 GMT kick-off):

Argentina

Wilfredo Caballero, Eduardo Salvio, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Maximiliano Meza, Lionel Messi (capt), Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero

Coach: Jorge Sampaoli (ARG)

Iceland

Hannes Halldorsson, Hordur Magnusson, Kari Arnason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Birkir Savarsson, Emil Hallfredsson, Aron Gunnarsson (capt), Johann Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alfred Finnbogason

Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson (ISL)

Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)


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