Iceland winger Johann Gudmundsson is hoping that both himself and his teammates will be able to stop Lionel Messi in their World Cup opener, much like they did against Cristiano Ronaldo two years ago
Iceland were the surprise team of Euro 2016 and memorably held the eventual champions Portugal to a 1-1 draw, which left Ronaldo himself frustrated.
The Real Madrid superstar was heavily critical of Iceland’s defensive tactics and lashed out against what he described as their “small mentality”.
However, the tactics worked well for the side as they reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship.
Now, ahead of their first ever World Cup appearance, Iceland will face another great in Messi and Argentina for their Group D opener on Saturday and Gudmundsson is hoping they can take inspiration from stopping Ronaldo two years ago as they prepare to face off against his long-time rival.
“He was obviously p***** off because they couldn’t score a second against us,” said Gudmundsson, according to Goal.
“It was our first game in a major tournament and they couldn’t beat Iceland so it was not nice for them. He’s a winner so he got a bit angry.
“It will be tough to play against him [Messi] but as long as he is frustrated and can’t score, we’re happy. Let’s just go out there and try to beat them and make him even more angry [than Ronaldo was].
“When the draw was made I said I wanted Brazil or Argentina and we got one of them. In the first game in the Euros we played Ronaldo and now it’s Messi. We kept Ronaldo quite quiet so hopefully will do the same with Messi.
“We know we’re probably going to be defending a lot of the time and Messi can turn it on but we just have to see where it takes us.
“Attacking-wise they’re one of best in the tournament but they have a few in defence who are maybe not at the highest level like their attackers so hopefully we use that to our advantage.
“This is going to be bigger than the Euros but I think we will know more what’s going to happen now that we didn’t know in France. I think that will help us a bit.”
Iceland will also be facing Nigeria and Croatia in Group D.