Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Cup Group F Update

Group F, consisting of Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, and Nigeria, was not incredibly exciting in its first two contests. Argentina beat Bosnia 2-1 and Iran and Nigeria labored to a dull 0-0 draw. Still, we learned lots about all teams involved that may indicate how this group will eventually turn out.

What We Learned About Argentina - They weren't particularly impressive, but Argentina will certainly not be worried about advancing out of the group. Bosnia and Herzegovina are the most talented team in the group outside of Argentina, so, having already won against them, the rest of the group should be a walk in the park for them. With all of the attacking firepower up front, they should have looked much more potent in attack. The reason that many of their attacking stars, including Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, and Angel Di Maria, seemed absent may have been because the midfield of Argentina really struggled to provide service. Seeing as Javier Mascherano was the only true midfielder in the team, Argentina may want to make a tactical change and add another midfielder to the side (perhaps moving away from a five-at-the-back formation).
Argentina's Best Player - Lionel Messi, Striker - Until his goal, Messi was actually pretty poor, giving up possession in good positions a couple times. However, the masterclass goal totally redeemed him.
Argentina's Worst Player - Maxi Rodriguez, Attacking Midfielder - Was supposed to drop back into the midfield with Mascherano but instead pushed up and barely touched the ball all game, leaving Mascherano isolated in the midfield.

What We Learned About Bosnia and Herzegovina - Bosnia looked fairly forward-thinking in their first World Cup match ever, which is encouraging. Rather than it back and defend against a talented Argentina team, Bosnia dominated much of the match in the midfield with Miralem Pjanic and even looked pretty decent moving down the flanks. After Messi's goal that put Argentina up by two goals, the team looked a bit deflated, but still, they probably deserved at least a point from the match and will be encouraged that they can succeed against weaker teams like Iran and Nigeria.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Best Player - Miralem Pjanic, Center Midfielder - Was the clear dominant force in the midfield, holding the ball in an Argentinian midfield that looked very empty.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Worst Player - Edin Dzeko, Striker - Has historically played very well for Bosnia but struggled to get too many touches on the ball and missed the only small chance that he had.

What We Learned About Iran - While they provide little going forward, Iran looked incredibly stout in the back, albeit going against a Nigeria team that couldn't finish anything. To Iran's credit, striker Reza Goochannejhad looked pretty decent in holding up play but the rest of the team wasn't willing to commit men forward. While the strategy might not be able to hold up against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Argentina, you can certainly expect Iran to try it again.
Iran's Best Player - Mohammad Hosseini, Center Back - Was the best of an Iranian defense that played very well as a whole
Iran's Worst Player - Hagi Safi, Attacking Midfielder - Should have pushed up to help Reza in attack but was mainly concerned with his defensive duties.

What We Learned About Nigeria - Nigeria were incredibly poor on the day and will be extremely disappointed that they couldn't manage anything more than a dull draw on the day. They had nearly all of the possession but had very little creativity in the attacking midfield and were constantly frustrated up front. By the end of the game they were reduced to a bickering group of individuals with very little confidence. To move on they would have loved to have gotten a victory against the weakest team in the group, Iran. With two upcoming games against quality opponents, Nigeria's chances of advancing look rather bleak.
Nigeria's Best Player - Vincent Enyeama, Goalkeeper - Was brilliant against Iran, even with the little amount of work that he had to do. Came up with a huge save on a corner kick that was perfectly executed by the Iranians.
Nigeria's Worst Player - Victor Moses, Winger - Nigeria rely on him to provide attacking creativity, but he did not come through and was on the ball for hardly any time.

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