Argentina vs Iraq - Icardi first goalscorer is the tip in Saudi Arabia

Inter Milan striker is in great form and can keep scoring here
Argentina's Mauro Icardi can rise above Iraq and score his first international goal (Getty Images).
Argentina's Mauro Icardi can rise above Iraq and score his first international goal (Getty Images).

Argentina vs Iraq Match Preview, Predictions & Betting Tips


Argentina take on Iraq in a friendly match at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Saudi Arabia on Thursday. With Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero both missing, we turn to Mauri Icardi to continue his goal scoring form against the Middle East minnows. 

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Argentina


The Albiceleste are rebuilding after a disappointing FIFA World Cup campaign where they were knocked out in the round of 16 against France. New manager Lionel Scaloni took over and has guided Argentina to a 3-0 win against Guatemala and a 0-0 draw against Colombia.

Scaloni has once again left Lionel Messi out of the squad as the Barcelona star is yet to make a decision about his international future. Angel di Maria is also out, but Juan Foyth and Rodrigo De Paul have earned debut call ups and Watford’s Roberto Pereyra is back having not played for Argentina since 2015.

The South Americans need to get in order before taking on Brazil next week. The jury is still out on Scaloni, with Maradona recently saying: “Scaloni is a great kid but he can't even manage traffic. How can we give the national team to Scaloni?”

This squad is still top heavy but the likes of Leandro Paredes and Giovani Lo Celso can cement their spots in midfield.

Argentina's Giovani Lo Celso has the chance to step up for his nation (Getty Images).

Iraq


Iraq were AFC Asian Cup champions in 2007, made the Asian Cup semi-finals in 2015 and are in a good run of form, losing just once in their last 17 matches. A 2-2 draw in Kuwait came after a 3-0 win against Palestine.

Manager Srecko Katanec took over in September and only has a few matches to prepare for the 2019 Asian Cup in January. The Lions of Mesopotamia are challenged in front of goal, 27-year-old midfielder Ahmed Yasin top scorer with six goals in 56 appearances.

However, 18-year-old striker Mohanad Ali will be one to watch, with four goals in his first six games for Iraq including a goal against Kuwait last time out. 17-year-old Muhammed Dawood has also been called up and will hope to see some playing time.

Justin Meram is one of the most high profile players for Iraq, the Columbus Crew left winger will be expected to provide much of the threat against Argentina. 

Head-to-Head


This is the first match featuring Argentina vs Iraq.

Match Up


Inter Milan's Argentinian forward Mauro Icardi scored two goals against Spal on Sunday (Getty Images).

Argentina are top heavy with a lack of top level class in defence, highlighted by Juan Foyth being called up. The current squad is incredibly inexperienced with nine combined goals scored between them. It's amazing a player of Mauro Icardi's ability has only played five times for Argentina and never scored.

Iraq might be better than many think despite not playing the likes of Argentina very often. They are likely to struggle here but will work hard and might keep it closer than predicted. 

Key Statistics


  • Argentina’s Mauro Icardi has scored 4 goals in his last 3 matches for Inter Milan (All competitions).
  • Argentina’s Mauro Icardi scored 29 goals for Inter Milan last season (Serie A).
  • Iraq have lost 1 of their last 17 matches in all competitions.

Verdict


Argentina are paying 1.06 here and even the -2 handicap is a short 1.66. We don’t know which way Scaloni will go but have to assume Mauro Icardi will start.

The Internazionale striker is back to his best with four goals in his last three games including both in the 2-1 win against SPAL on Sunday. Let’s ride the Icardi train as he gets his first international goal.

Best Bet: Mauro Icardi First Goalscorer @ 3.50 - 3 Units
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Matthew Marshall 10 October 2018

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