World Cup Group F - Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Argentina have the attacking power, but the fight for second place in World Cup Group F could be one of the most hotly contested in Brazil this June, Adrian Sheehan writes…
The last time the World Cup was held in South America, Argentina lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in their own back yard. That was 1978 and 36 years on La Albiceleste would love nothing more than claiming the trophy in the home of their fiercest rivals.
The fact that Carlos Tevez didn’t make the Argentina squad shows the scoring threat that Argentina possess. With the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain all named in the 23, goals should not be hard to come by.
As has been the case in recent years though, it’s the Argentinian defence where question marks lie. They should be able to coast through Group F without being tested too much but it’s in the latter stages of this World Cup where their back line will come under real scrutiny.
Bosnia and Herzegovina go to Brazil on the back of their best-ever qualifying campaign and this will be their first ever major tournament as an independent nation. The former member of the Yugoslavian Federation topped a group which included 2010 World Cup participants Greece and Slovakia.
The most recognizable name in the Bosnia squad is Manchester City goal machine Edin Dzeko and they will need him to be firing on all cylinders if they are to progress further than the group stage. Even though their defence looks a little vulnerable, they have a top class goalkeeper protecting them in Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic and the big man will also be crucial to their progression.
Iran come into the group as the team which most observers think has the least chance of reaching the knockout stages, but coming off the back of a very good qualifying campaign, Team Melli will feel they have a good chance of advancing past the groups for the first time.
Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah is perhaps the best-known name in the Iran squad and the former Germany Under-21 star will have to be at his best if the Persian Stars are to have a successful tournament. Having former Real Madrid and Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz at the helm is also a massive plus for the three-time Asian Cup winners.
Nigeria come into this World Cup having not lost in a competitive fixture apart from the Confederations Cup since South Africa four years ago, where they didn’t win a game. The Super Eagles will be hoping to qualify for the Round of 16 for the first time since 1998, when they topped a group that included Spain, Paraguay and Bulgaria.
The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations champions have a squad that consists of several players that are well known to Premier League followers including John Obi Mikel, Peter Odemwingie, Victor Moses, Shola Ameobi and Joseph Yobo. Add to that the likes of Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa and goalkeeper-captain Vincent Enyeama and the Nigerians have a squad capable of causing a few upsets in Brazil.
Overall Group F should be one that is packed full of goals as all four teams place a lot more emphasis on attack than defence. Expect Argentina to qualify with relative ease as they boast the most formidable attack, possibly in the whole tournament, but be prepared for a real dogfight to see who claims the second Round of 16 spot.
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