Lionel Messi's, Argentina's struggles against Iceland, in 12 pictures and 1 GIF

Iceland held Argentina to a famous 1-1 draw on Saturday. The story of the match was Lionel Messi’s missed penalty. But more than anything, the 90 minutes exposed just how dependent the Argentines are on Messi.

It’s not news. But La Albiceleste‘s 2018 World Cup opener took Messi Dependencia to a new level. And we have the pictures to prove it.

Time and time again, Argentina’s entire attack followed the same rhythm. Unprogressive passing got it nowhere. Messi, fed up with his teammates’ inability to do anything useful on the ball, came deep to get it. He drew, two, three, sometimes four defenders as he tried to break down Iceland’s low block.

And he simply couldn’t.

Because there was simply nowhere for him to go:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

Wait … there are more of them! Zoom out… more Iceland defenders, still only one Messi!

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

Whenever he moved to within 25 yards of goal, Iceland defenders swarmed him …

… Actually, those are midfielders – which shows just how deep Iceland bunkered:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

Icelandic players laid hands and hips on him … anything to slow his momentum:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

Of course, they fouled him:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

Messi tried to fend them off:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

Or skip by them:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

But he ran into roadblocks:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

While Messi tried to find routes to goal, his teammates lay on the grass:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

Or blocked his shots:


His opportunities came from dead-ball situations. Of course, there was the penalty:

Lionel Messi missed a penalty for Argentina vs. Iceland. (Getty)

He also had multiple free kicks blocked by Iceland’s towering wall:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

And he and Argentina were left to rue two points dropped:

Lionel Messi and Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in their 2018 World Cup opener. (Getty)

The end.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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