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World Cup

  • June 21, 2014
  • • 17:00
  • • Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
  • Referee: M. Mažić
  • • Attendance: 57698
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Argentina - Iran Preview: Messi & Co looking to rack up big win

Argentina - Iran Preview: Messi & Co looking to rack up big win

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The Barcelona star got off the mark for the tournament with a stunning strike against Bosnia & Herzegovina and he and his team-mates are after more goals

By Ben Hayward in Belo Horizonte

Argentina are set for a return to their habitual 4-3-3 formation in their Group F clash against Iran on Saturday.

Coach Alejandro Sabella surprisingly started with a 5-3-2 system in his side’s opener versus Bosnia-Herzegovina last Sunday, but switched back to the team’s favoured formation after the interval.

Captain Lionel Messi, who scored a wonder goal to seal a 2-1 victory for the Albiceleste, claimed on Monday he feels “more comfortable” in a 4-3-3, while defender Pablo Zabaleta also revealed he prefers the system.

Gonzalo Higuain is set to start for Argentina after beginning on the bench on Sunday, while Angel Di Maria has shaken off muscle fatigue and been declared fully fit for the game in Belo Horizonte.

Argentina are based just outside the capital of Minas Gerais and will travel the short distance into town to the Estadio Mineirao for their second group game. Inter striker Rodrigo Palacio, who missed the opener with an ankle problem, has trained normally this week and could play a part from the bench.

A win for Argentina will see Sabella’s side qualify for the last 16 ahead of their final group game against Nigeria in Porto Alegre next Wednesday.

Iran drew with Nigeria on Monday in the competition’s first goalless game.

Coach Carlos Queiroz, who will be leaving his post after the World Cup, dismissed criticism aimed at his side after that match and called for his players’ achievements to be put into perspective.

Queiroz claimed people in Iran would be proud of the result and reminded reporters that his players turn out in an amateur league, not the top teams in Europe or South America.

Left-back Hashem Beikzadeh is available again for the Asian side after missing the opener against Nigeria with an injury sustained in a warm-up game prior to the competition.

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

Who else? After his stunning strike against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Argentina’s opener, the Barcelona forward called for a more attacking Albiceleste side in the rest of the competition and a return to 4-3-3 on Saturday is likely to mean many opportunities for the 26-year-old.

Mehrdad Pooladi
Mehrdad Pooladi
Position: Defender
Squad Number: 23
Games Goals YC RC
3 0 0 0
The Persepolis defender may only have been in the Iran side against Nigeria due to an injury to Hashem Beikzadeh, but the 27-year-old produced a fine performance and his match rating of 9.7 saw him finish second in Fifa’s list of the best players in the opening group games – behind only Germany’s Thomas Muller (9.75). Pouladi is likely to keep his place against Argentina.
Prediction
Alejandro Sabella’s side will have had six days rest and won’t have to travel far for this one. A return to their favoured 4-3-3 formation should see Messi make hay and the Albiceleste run out easy winners at the Mineirao on Saturday.
Editor's Prediction
Iran 0

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