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World Cup

  • June 15, 2014
  • • 23:00
  • • Estadio Jornalista Mário Filho (Maracanã), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
  • Referee: J. Aguilar
  • • Attendance: 74738
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Argentina-Bosnia Preview: Messi looks to fire South Americans to glory

Argentina-Bosnia Preview: Messi looks to fire South Americans to glory

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The Barcelona striker wants to emulate Maradona's 1986 performances and starts his campaign against the World Cup debutants at the Maracana on Sunday

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has put Lionel Messi’s habit of throwing up on the pitch down to anxiety – and the Barcelona forward starts the tournament knowing he is under pressure to replicate Diego Maradona’s achievements in 1986 and cement his place in place in football history.

It will take more than Messi’s magic, though, if Argentina are going to finish their World Cup campaign where they start – at the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. They have tended to play on the counterattack under Sabella, but the Group F favourites will be forced to take the initiative against Bosnia.

For Argentina, attack will be the best form of defence with a fluid frontline that is likely to see Sergio Aguero in a central role, Messi drifting in from the right and Gonzalo Higuain starting on the left of the front three if he recovers from an ankle problem.


Ezequiel Lavezzi offers vibrancy from the bench and the rest of the team is fairly settled, with Javier Mascherano anchoring the midfield and Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria initiating attacks from a deeper position.

Bosnia’s instinct is also to attack under Safet Susic, who is expected to move away from the two man strikeforce used in their impressive qualifying campaign and play a 4-2-3-1 system, with star man Edin Dzeko leading the line as the sole striker.

The Manchester City forward will be expected to link Bosnia’s play and get them in positions to display their attacking quality, with the Zvjezdan Misimovic and Miralem Pjanic providing the creativity in central areas.

In their first World Cup appearance, the concern for Susic will be about his team’s defence, especially if they fall behind early given the questions over their notoriously unpredictable mentality, with much depending on captain Spahic at centre-back.

The only injury concern for Bosnia is Sejad Salihovic. If passed fit, the midfielder will slot in at left-back, allowing Sead Kolasinac to move to centre-back.

Related

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Players to Watch
Messi
Messi
Position:
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
It felt in the final months of the season that Messi was saving himself for the World Cup and protecting himself against injury as he strolled through games for Barcelona. He knows, at the age of 26, that this is his chance to make history and Argentina’s system is built for their captain to shine.
Edin Dzeko
Edin Dzeko
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 11
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0
The Manchester City striker has scored 35 goals in 62 appearances for Bosnia and arrives at the World Cup on the back of a fine final two months to the season with his club. He can be lethal in the penalty box – particularly in the air – and his movement will cause problems for the Argentina defence.
Prediction
Bosnia’s first appearance at a World Cup is a great story but I don’t expect a fairytale start when they open their campaign against one of the World Cup favourites. Argentina have far too much attacking quality for their opponent’s fragile defence and the stage is set for Messi to fire his side to the perfect start.
Editor's Prediction
Bosnia 0

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