Before the tournament started, ask a group of 100 people who the star of this World Cup would have been and I’d be willing to say at least half of them would have gone for either Brazil’s Neymar, or Argentina’s Lionel Messi. And while there have been plenty of fantastic performances so far, you would be hard pushed to argue that either haven’t been the most influential in the tournament so far.
Neymar has been Brazil’s most constant threat by some distance and the worrying thing for Argentina is that Messi has been just about the only threat. Apart from an own goal against Bosnia, the magical man has scored two of Argentina’s three goals. Those stats make for worrying reading with Argentina likely to face a stiff upping in class in the knockouts, and their performance against Argentina today is likely to be a fascinating insight as to whether outright backs, me included, should begin to worry.
Many would say that they should already by worried but perspective is needed. In beating Bosnia 2-1 despite playing the wrong formation for the first half and the final ball let them down from creating much clearer cut scoring opportunities in the second half. Their performance against Iran – where the Iranians had the better of the clear scoring chances before Messi’s curler – was much more worrying, but not the first time that a side has been frustrated effectively by Quieroz’s men and unlikely to be the last.
What’s going to be interesting today is seeing just how Nigeria – who are in the prime seat for qualification – play given that if Iran don’t win, they are through regardless of the result here. Stephen Keshi’s men may sit deep to try and frustrate but they looked dangerous at all times when going forward against Bosnia and should Emmanuel Emenike and Peter Odemwingie be as good as they were against Bosnia then there could be some significant problems of the Argentinians to deal with – don’t forget Ahmed Musa, who is also set to be a threat today.
However that would be the first time that a side has come out to Argentina all tournament and that could be the key for the likes of Higuain and Aguero to show their best and if Argentina get the gaps then we may see them cut loose; Bosnia created plenty and had a goal legitimately ruled out in their loss to Nigeria. 8/11 about Over 2.5 has it’s appeal but this game may be best left.