- Published on Saturday, 21 June 2014 16:33
- Written by Super User
Argentina can guarantee their passage into the knockout stages of the World Cup with a victory over Iran in Belo Horizonte on Saturday evening.
Despite conceding early, Bosnia and Herzegovina made it difficult for the Argentinians in the Maracana and it wasn't until Lionel Messi inspired his team with a second half goal that they started playing in the manner that was expected of them by fans and neutrals alike.
Their opponents Iran played against Nigeria in Group F's other game earlier this week and it ended in a bore 0-0 draw. However, this probably should have been expected given that Iran conceded the fewest goals in any of the Asian qualifiers.
We have already seen how difficult it can be for Argentina when their opponents are organised at the back. It will be an entirely different challenge for Iran than the one they faced against Nigeria but if they can maintain their defensive organisation, then who's to say we won't see another shock at this World Cup?
Rodrigo Palacio is the only injury Argentina currently have in their squad. However, he may yet be available for this game if he is able to pass a late fitness test.Sardar Azmoun is still suffering with a knock and it is unlikely that he will be able to play for Iran in this match.
• Messi scored only his second World Cup goal in the game against Bosnia, despite playing in three tournaments.
• Argentina have only played Iran once before in a friendly in Madrid, ending in a 1-1 draw.
• There have only been three goalless draws at the World Cup so far, one of which Iran played in.
Argentina – Lionel Messi
Messi finally got the monkey off his back when he scored against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Maracana. However, he was by no means dominating the game before he scored in the second half and it will be interesting to see how he performs in the game against Iran. According to Squawka.com he finished the game against Bosnia with a 33% shooting accuracy and created four chances for his team mates. He missed a lot of passes early in the game but improved as time went on and finished the match with an 80% passing accuracy. He also won 59% of his duels so if Messi can improve on this overall performance, then he could have a massive impact against the Iranians.
Iran – Ashkan Dejagah
Dejagah did not have a great game against Nigeria but that doesn't mean Argentina can take him for granted. According to Squawka.com Dejagah only managed to finish the game with a 53% passing accuracy and won less than half of all the duels he went into during the match. He did manage to create two chances for his team mates which given the context of the game, he should probably be commended for that. It was by no means a vintage performance by the Fulham midfielder but if he can perform to the standards he demonstrated in the Premier League this season, then Argentina may have another tough match on their hands.
Iran made it tough for Nigeria with their organisation at the back. As we saw in Argentina's game, they found it difficult coming up against this, however when they moved to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half, they looked much more dangerous. I think that this will combine with the superior ability of the Argentinian players and result in a 3-0 win for Argentina.
- Published on Friday, 20 June 2014 05:51
- Written by Super User
FIVE POINT WHY ENGLAND LOST
ENGLAND'S ATTACK FALTERS
Wayne Rooney was always going to dominate the post-mortem following the Italy defeat, but he will at least be spared of that in the aftermath of this loss. He was easily the liveliest and most dangerous of England's front six as the Liverpool quarter and Danny Welbeck were shackled with ease by Uruguay's defense. Daniel Sturridge performed as greedily as he used to for Chelsea, Raheem Sterling was suffocated by the wary Uruguayans, Welbeck rarely effects games on the wing and the two midfielders were too detached from England's attacks. The full-backs were more involved than Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, while Ross Barkley appeared keener when he replaced Sterling, and his introduction indirectly influenced the spell of domination which preceded Rooney's equaliser. Irrespective of age or experience, too many that started looked like novices on work experience.
GERRARD FAILS ON THE BIG STAGE AGAIN
There are no excuses for Steven Gerrard this time. He has enjoyed one of the finest spells of his club career this year, he was not affected by transfer talk and Frank Lampard wasn't starting alongside him, and yet he has performed disastrously again and was culpable for both of Uruguay's goals.Gerrard was fortunate to travel to another World Cup after the 2010 disasterGerrard's through ball for Suárez was so well-timed it seemed inappropriate neither of them were wearing Liverpool red. Arguably more maddening than his assist was his antics afterwards. A pot-shot, a dive, some wasteful Hollywood passes; many have acknowledged his Roy of the Rovers days are long over, but not Gerrard.Hodgson was never going to overlook Gerrard these last two years after appointing him captain, but the Liverpudlian can consider himself fortunate to have travelled to another World Cup after the 2010 disaster. Bizarrely, Gary Neville said on Tuesday he hoped Gerrard would prolong his international career, but this has to be the end for the 34-year-old's association with England.
ENGLAND ARE TOO GENTLEMANLY
When Diego Godín, already booked, thrust his arm out to prevent Daniel Sturridge from latching on to a through ball in the 28th minute the Spanish referee should have flourished a second yellow card, followed by a red. Predictably he bottled the decision, yet England's players should have cajoled him to dismiss Godín, Uruguay's best defender and captain, rather than follow decorum. If England are to ever succeed at a major tournament they must be cannier, and upholding the mythical spirit of the game or excusing culture is utterly naive at a World Cup.
SUÁREZ EMULATES FRUGAL PIRLO
If one man does not give a damn about football's spirit it is Luis Suárez, even if he did not bother expending his energy with dives or jibes as he clinically pounced twice to all but eliminate England. Suárez, who last played on 11 May, was not 100% fit and he hardly harried England's suspect defence, despite Phil Jagielka's patent awkwardness when afforded time with the ball at his feet. Uruguay needn't have worried.Instead, Suárez channelled Andrea Pirlo's savviness, insomuch as he hardly ran about and still walked off the pitch as the best player. Suárez, like Pirlo, reacted when he had to and made it count. His finish for the winner was as pure as it was clinical. The ball ran through to Suárez invitingly, however he did not look up once at Joe Hart before thrashing the ball past the England goalkeeper. The only world-class player on the pitch, it was apt he should decide the outcome.
HODGSON STRUGGLES FOR PLAN B OPTIONS
Roy Hodgson's risk in starting the same XI again was he would be deprived of effective options from the bench, with the exception of Ross Barkley. It was utterly predictable Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert would be introduced after Barkley, and however dry England's talent pool is questions must be raised about certain squad selections.
England lacked width, as they relied on the full-backs, penetration and dynamism. Hodgson will lament injuries to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andros Townsend, who watched on from the ITV gantry. Both were sorely missed, however their voids were never filled.
Frank Lampard saw out his England career on the bench - which is where many suspected it would end when the squad was announced - yet his knack for potshot goals would have been an antidote to Gerrard and Henderson's conservatism. Suddenly, energetic yet erratic players like Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor seem appealing.
- Published on Monday, 16 June 2014 11:32
- Written by Super User
Germany v Portugal
Monday, June 16, 2014
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Kick-off: 17.00 BST.
Germany (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Mertesacker, Hoewedes; Khedira, Lahm; Kroos, Özil, Podolski; Müller.
Test: Neuer (shoulder).
Portugal (Possible, 4-3-3): Patricio; Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao; Veloso, Moutinho, Meireles; Ronaldo, Almeida, Varela.
Test: Ronaldo (knee).
Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia).
Manuel Neuer has been passed fit to face Portugal.The German goalkeeper returned to training last Wednesday after a month out recovering from a shoulder injury.Roman Weidenfeller kept goal for Germany's final two warm-up matches against Cameroon and Armenia, but Neuer will play.Bastian Schweinsteiger will be available after taking a 60km helicopter flight to hospital to treat a foot injuryPortugal, meanwhile, will include Cristiano Ronaldo despite a lingering knee problem.
Two European powers clash in Salvador where Cristiano Ronaldo will be determined to give Portugal a good start.Germany have a reputation for starting well in World Cups, having won their opening match in every World Cup since 1990.And they will rely heavily on Arsenal trio Per Mertesacker, Mesut Özil and Lukas Podolski.There will be some familiarity; the teams were drawn together in the qualifying group at Euro 2012, with Germany winning 1-0 with a goal from Mario Gomez.Both qualified and Germany reached the final. Same again?
Stat of the game:
This is Germany's 100th game in the World Cup finals, while Germany striker Miroslav Klose is one strike away from equalling a tournament record of 15 goals held by Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
Nepalifootball.com Predicts: Germany 2 Portugal 1.
- Published on Sunday, 15 June 2014 18:02
- Written by Super User
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Kick-off: 23.00 BST.
Argentina (Possible, 4-3-3): Romero; Zabaleta, Fernandez, Garay, Rojo; Gago, Mascherano, Di Maria; Messi, Higuain, Aguero.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Possible, 4-4-2): Begovic; Mujdza, Spahic, Bicakcic, Kolasinac; Hajrovic, Besic, Pjanic, Misimovic; Lulic, Dzeko.
Referee : Joel Aguilar (El Salvador).
Betting: Argentina 4-9, Bosnia 6-1, Draw 10-3.
Argentina will hope that Lionel Messi can start with a bang and claim his first goal in the finals for eight years.Messi's last World Cup goal was on his debut in the competition in Germany in 2006 when Argentina beat Serbia and Montenegro 6-0 and he came off the bench to net the last goal.Bosnia, meanwhile, must make a couple of decisions.In the centre of defence either Ermin Bicakcic or Toni Sunjic will partner Emir Spahic.And in midfield, either Zvjezdan Misimovic or Sejad Salihovic will sit behind Manchester City's Edin Dzeko.
Lionel Messi gets the first chance to stake a claim that he is better than Cristiano Ronaldo as Argentina look to win the World Cup for the first time since 1986.Bosnia scored 30 goals in their qualifying group, taking top place on goal difference ahead of Greece.And in a group also including Nigeria and Iran, they will be confident of making the last 16, even if they lose in Rio.
Stat of the game:
Bosnia coach Safet Susic was once a forward who scored 21 goals in 54 internationals for the former Yugoslavia - including a hat-trick in a 4-2 friendly win over Argentina in Belgrade in 1979.
Nepalifootball.com prediction: Argentina 2 Bosnia 1.
Point to prove: Lionel Messi will want to hit the ground running when Argentina face Bosnia in Rio
- Published on Friday, 13 June 2014 18:03
- Written by Super User
Venue: Arena Forte Nova, Salvador
Kick-off: (4pm, Brazil time)
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli, Italy
Vicente Del Bosque (Spain)
Louis van Gaal (Holland)
Played 9 Spain Wins 4 Draws 1 Losses 4
Spain and Holland played out one of the most disappointing World Cup finals in history four years ago. They get a chance to make amends right away in Brazil. In one of the quirks of the draw for Brazil, Spain opens the defense of its title against the country it beat in the championship decider in Johannesburg four years ago. But while Vicente Del Bosque's team has stuck to its attacking philosophy, Holland coach Louis van Gaal is packing hisdefense and hoping one of his three star forwards, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben or Wesley Sneijder, can snatch a goal on the counterattack in their Group B opener at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
- This is the first time the two World Cup finalists have met in the tournament directly after contesting the final since 1990, when West Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final (after meeting each other in 1986).
- La Roja lost their opening game of the 2010 World Cup to Switzerland, but went on to become the first team to ever win the tournament having lost their first game.
- Vicente Del Bosque has only lost one of his 25 World Cup games as Spain head-coach, including qualifiers (W22 D2). That was against Switzerland (0-1) in 2010.
- David Villa - Spain’s top scorer at World Cup Finals (eight goals) - has been directly involved in seven of Spain’s last nine goals in the tournament (six goals, one assist).
- Spain have won their last six World Cup games, their best ever run in the tournament. Their last four games have ended in 1-0 wins.
- Spain have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four World Cup games, the longest current run. Indeed only Italy (five games in 1990) and Switzerland (five in 2006 & 2010) have ever had a longer run in the competition.
- Holland have made it past the group stages in their last seven previous World Cup participations.
- Robin van Persie was the top scorer in the 2014 European World Cup qualifiers (11 goals).
- Spain and Holland have a perfectly even head-to-head record with four wins apiece and one draw, though Spain won the only previous World Cup clash 1-0 in the 2010 final.
- The defending champions have only won their first game in three of the last 10 World Cups (D4 L3), with Italy drawing 1-1 with Paraguay last time out.