Somebody from Argentina got their wallets out before the group draws, because I can’t really explain how else they’d end up in a group this easy. Argentina didn’t need much help to begin with, considering the star power on their team, but they got placed in a group with Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran. Nigeria might be the best team in Africa right now, but Bosnia and Herzegovina is making its first World Cup appearance and Iran’s never made it out of the Group Stage. I’m not bitter about this at all.
National Anthem: Himno Nacional de Argentina
Coach: Alejandro Sabella
Best Showing at A World Cup: Winners, 1978 and 1986
What can I say about Argentina that hasn’t already been said about the poop I took last night? Literally nothing. That being said, they should win this group without any problems at all, because they are very good at fútbol. Led by Lionel Messi, who is among a select few in the “best player in the world” debate, Argentina boasts one of the better attacks in the world. Messi is joined up front by Angel Di Maria, Sergio “Kun” Aguero and Gonzalo “The Horrible Argentine” Higuaín (OK I made that one up). They’re so good, in fact, that they didn’t bother taking Carlos Tevez to Brazil, and he scored 19 goals in the Italian Serie A this season. If Messi is on his game, and setting the table for his buddies, there are gonna be a lot of goals.
Argentina does not escape the eye of Jobu, though. They have their faults. For one, their defense is slightly inexperienced and can be vulnerable, and their starting goalie, Sergio Romero, apparently wasn’t good enough to play for his club team Monaco of Ligue 1 in France.a. If someone finds a way to stop Messi and the crew, Argentina might be in trouble. Messi is definitely the real key to this tournament. In the past, he has struggled at the international level, barely showing up in South Africa in 2010 and failing to make an impact in the 2011 Copa America either. That being said, he’s scored 21 goals since being named Captain in 2011. This should, in theory, be his World Cup coming out party… Can he lead Argentina to victory? I sure as hell hope not! They could always cheat to win, like Maradona in 1986.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
National Anthem: Drzavna Himna Bosne I Hercegovine
Coach: Safet Susic
Best Showing at A World Cup: 2014 is their first appearance… congrats!
That’s right people, we have a World Cup virgin in our midsts! B&H (I don’t want to type the whole name every time, so I hope no one gets offended) has a complicated history. When Yugoslavia broke up in the early 90s, it led to years of horrible war and political upheaval. Eventually, depending on when you consider a country to be independent–I’ll say 1992 as the day that Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence–B&H was born. The fact that, less than a generation later, they have fielded a World Cup qualifying team, is pretty extraordinary. While sports don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, they certainly can help a people craft an identity and bring everyone together, so kudos to this team. They are truly a feel good story.
Unfortunately, good feelings don’t win fútbol games. Even though this group is a relatively easy one by most standards, B&H has a very tough challenge ahead of them if they want to move to the round of 16. That being said, a lot of experts are picking them to finish second in the group because of their big time attack. They scored 30 goals during qualifying, 18 of them by Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic. Those guys aren’t even the best players on this team. The key man will be Miralem Pjanic, and the ‘number 10’ will be Zvjezdan Misimovic. There’s a ton of offense on this B&H squad, and it’s a little scary. Unfortunately the middle and defense is a little weaker than most teams, which will ultimately cause them to be eliminated. I think they have a chance to be a Cinderella type, but that won’t get them too much further than 16.
National Anthem: Sorud-e Melli-ye Jonhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
Coach: Carlos Queiroz
Best Showing at A World Cup: Group stage in 1978, 1998, 2006
Like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran is a bit of a feel good story too. They missed the cup in 2010, but are back in this year after winning their qualifying group. Unfortunately, for Iran, the competition is a lot tougher at the World Cup finals level. Do they have what it takes to make it out of this group?
At the helm is former Manchester United assistant Carlos Quieroz, a Portuguese native who once coached his nation’s team but was fired in 2010. Quieroz will hope to get the best of a mostly local squad that, while talented, lacks depth and fitness on the pitch. Captain Javad Nekounam is definitely the most recognizable name on the team, but there’s a new star that has taken the fans hearts away from the 33 year old. That youngster is Reza Ghoochannejhad, a striker for second division (aka The Football League Championship) Charleton Athletic of England. Ghoochannejhad is trying to help solve the goal scoring problem that has plagued Iran for years, and so far he’s done pretty alright.
National Anthem: Arise, O Compatriots
Coach: Stephen Keshi
Best Showing at A World Cup: Round of 16 – 1994 and 1998
I think some day an African team will win the World Cup–I really, really do. Some day, it could be these guys. Nigeria failed to make it to the dance in 2010, but coach Stephen Keshi did a fantastic job of reworking the roster to create a winning squad. Along with the Ivory Coast, Nigeria went unbeaten in the qualifying and won their group by 5 points.
All roads to success will run through key man Victor Moses. Moses, a 23 year old who currently plays for Chelsea in the EPL, Helped Nigeria win the African Cup of Nations in 2013. He can play on either wing and has good dribbling ability, pace and is power to boot (see what I did there?). How far can Nigeria get in Brazil? They might be the African team that lasts the longest in this tournament–if they can make it out of this group.
There are two things I know for a fact. One, Argentina is going to win this group. The second thing is that Iran won’t be making it to the round of 16. The real tough call is who will join Argentina at the top of the standings. Both Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegova are strong. Nigeria has more experience, and has had more success of late, but I’m going to go with the feel good story. B&H advances to the round of 16 with Argentina.
Featured image courtesy of: QMI Agency/Dave Abel
- http://www.mundoalbiceleste.com/article.aspx?id=3718&rss=1&title=sergio-romero-hopefully-2014-will-be-better (back)
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