Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle will be covering the World Cup in Brazil. Here is his look at who to watch and what to expect in Group F.
All talent, Argentina intends to win this World Cup. A front three of Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Agüero can defeat any team on the planet, even Brazil. The key here is not Lionel Mesi, but the organization of players around him. Ángel Di María will, after a great season with Real Madrid, be expected to feed the ball to Messi and carve open opposition defences.
A surprise in qualifying from Europe, this team’s happy just to be at the World Cup. With a small pool of talent to call on, manager Safet Susic relied heavily on strikers Edin Dzeko to get the goals to get to Brazil, and he delivered. While Bosnia-Herzegovina can play with Balkan flair, not unlike Croatia, it will struggle to compete with Nigeria for second place in the group.
This is Iran’s fourth World Cup, a testament to the weaknesses of teams in its qualifying region. This time the star is the mangers, Carlos Queiroz, former manager of Real Madrid, the Portuguese national team and assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. He’s better known than the 11 players he can field in Brazil. His best bet in this group is a good goalkeeper, likely Rahman Ahmadi.
Entertaining to watch and eternally disappointing. That’s the knock against Nigeria. Team unity is always a problem for the Super Eagles, whose players rarely get to play together in one firm unit. The key is goal-scoring, to overcome a shaky defence system and, possibly, Peter Odemwingie good for Stoke City in the EPL this season, can be relied upon.
Player to Watch: Lionel Messi. If Argentina can figure out how to use the best player in the world, they are unstoppable, as is he.
Game to Watch: Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina, June 15. The tactics and formation used by Argentina could determine the course of this World Cup right up to the Final.
Predicted Order of Finish: Argentina, Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran
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