Clarets winger can’t wait to take on Messi

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Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s first task once the Premier League campaign is over will be to try and keep five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi in Russia.

Iceland’s first ever game in a World Cup finals will be against two-time tournament victors Argentina at the Otkrytie Arena on Saturday, June 16th.

Heimir Hallgrímsson’s men were also drawn in Group D alongside Nigeria and Croatia, who they beat late on in the qualifiers thanks to Hörður Magnússon’s strike in Reykjavík in the summer.

Having already gone up against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann in the European Championships, the Clarets winger said: “It’s a tough draw. They’re really good teams, but I’m looking forward to the first game, Argentina are a great team.

“In the last Euros we played Portugal and Ronaldo first, now it’s Argentina and Messi, it’s going to be fun.

“We’ve done some good things over the last few years and we’ll go out there, enjoy it and try and do good things.”

With Argentina also armed with the likes of Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala, two of Serie A’s leading scorers, Gudmundsson added: “You want to play against teams you normally don’t play against.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable experience, first time at the World Cup playing one of the best teams in the world.

“Messi is one of the best, if not the best, who ever touched the ball, so it’s going to be nice to test yourself against him.

“We know it’s going to be tough, we’re going to be defending 95 per cent of the time but that five per cent when we play a little bit of football we may nick a goal and surprise a few people.

“We know we’re playing Argentina, we have to think about our game, how we’re going to stop them and how we’re going to make their day difficult.”

Gudmundsson was like a kid at Christmas when watching Friday’s draw alongside midfielder Steven Defour on the coach to the King Power Stadium as the Clarets faced Leicester City in the top flight.

The winger admitted that he found it hard to hide his excitement and now he’s itching to represent his nation on the biggest stage in world football.

“It was a bit weird before the draw that we were actually going to be in there, that was a bit surreal,” he said.

“It’s still far away, we need to concentrate on club football, but it got a bit more realistic that we were going to be at the World Cup when the draw was made.

“Me and Steven watched it on the bus travelling here. He was quite happy to get England. We were all texting. Someone I was texting in the national team said we would get Croatia and we would get Nigeria, and he was correct.

“It’s the biggest in the world. For a nation like Iceland, the smallest nation by far to reach the WC, it’s special. We’re always going to be in the history books which is nice.”