The first game in this group was set to feature a set of superstars versus a young upstart squad. The second game was supposed to have a continental champion overwhelm an also-ran; fail on this one as well.
What a disappointing performance from Argentina. Expecting a fearsome foursome at the top, Alejandro Sabella decided to drop Gonzalo Higuaín and Ángel Di María, plus he fielded essentially six defenders. So it’s no shocker that they only led at the half because of an early own-goal from Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Higuain’s introduction was critical
Sabella changed it up at the half and brought on Higuaín and Fernando Gago. More option meant more men for the Bosnians to defend against and that allowed Lionel Messi to score. Check out the goal here… Messi makes his run, passes it to Higuaín, who gives it right back to Messi, who hadn’t stopped running until he’s ready to take his shot, and then it’s in. Bosnia would get one back late but that was it. Argentina 2-1 Bosnia & Hezegovina
As for today’s match, let’s just say Nigeria blew their best chance at three points in this group. Iran was content to batter down the hatches, but as the game went on, so did the Persians’ sense of adventure. Stephen Keshi’s frustration showed early when he subbed on Shola Ameobi for Victor Moses in the 52nd minute… and then Peter Odemwingie for Ramon Azeez in the 69th. Neither Ameobi nor Odemwingie exactly lit up the Premier League this season… and their work rate was no better today. Nigeria dominated possession… but as we so often see, possession means nothing. This World Cup gets its first draw after five days of play. Iran 0-0 Nigeria
Brent P. Lanthier
When Sergio Batista was given the reins of Argentina’s national team on an interim basis, reactions in his home nation were mixed. Some were still mourning the resignation of national icon Diego Maradona, while others were hoping for a different gaffer, one with some managerial experience in Europe or Argentina’s domestic league. After all, Batista was coming off a horrendous experience with the youth squad, having failed to guide Argentina to the World Youth Cup for the first time in recent memory.
Some, however, remember Batista as the brilliant tactical manager who ledArgentina to Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008. In the process, he found a way to get the most out of his best players, namely Leo Messi, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano. So how would he perform at the senior level? The answer, thus far, is magnificently.
Unlike Maradona, Batista has stacked his midfield and defence with more possession based players, and the results have been astonishing. Nicolas Ottamendi, Di Maria, and Maxi Rodriguez were replaced by Ever Banega, Esteban Cambiasso, and Javier Zanetti and Argentina has looked unstoppable since. In fact, following Tuesday’s 4-1 demolition of world champions Spain, supporters of the Albicelestes are no doubt be wondering what could have been had Batista been in charge in South Africa instead of Maradona.
Batista still has a number of upcoming friendlies to justify his appointment as permanent manager, including a match against hated-rivals Brazil. But if the big win over Spain is any indication, he looks certain to be around for some time.