Argentina will kick off their World Cup campaign in earnest on Sunday night when they take on the tournament debutants, Bosnia & Herzegovina in Rio de Janeiro.
Alejandro Sabella’s side will be looking to start the group stage with a win and move one step closer to the knockout phase. However, Bosnia & Herzegovina will certainly not make it easy for them despite their lowly status in the tournament.
Players such as Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko have experience of playing in Europe’s biggest leagues and the two often combine to form a dangerous attack when playing for their country. Of course, when you have Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero leading the charge for Argentina, it’s easy to see why they are considered favourites for this game.
Argentina did extremely well in qualifying for the tournament, topping their group and only losing two games in the process. They rounded off their preparations for the World Cup by winning both of their friendly games against Slovenia and Trinidad & Tobago. Bosnia & Herzegovina just managed to edge out Greece from the top spot in their qualifying group, finishing first thanks to their superior goal difference. They also managed to win both of their warm up games against Mexico and Ivory Coast.
Gonzalo Higuain faces a late fitness test to determine whether he will be able to play against Bosnia & Herzegovina. Lucas Biglia and Martin Demichelis are in the same position.
Sejad Salihovic has a knock but otherwise Bosnia & Herzegovina have no injury concerns.
- Argentina have played their European counterparts twice before, winning both with an aggregate score of 7-0.
- This is Bosnia & Herzegovina’s first appearance at a World Cup.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina demonstrated their attacking prowess by scoring 30 goals during their qualification campaign.
- Argentina will be hoping to add a third World Cup trophy to their honours list this year.
Argentina – Lionel Messi
Widely considered to the greatest player in the world at the moment, Messi is under pressure in his own country to win the World Cup. The player didn’t have his greatest season in the Spanish League by the standards we expect of him. However, he still managed to score 28 goals in 31 appearances for Barcelona in La Liga, as well as providing 11 assists to his team mates. According to whoscored.com he averaged 5.2 shots per game and finished the season with a pass accuracy of 85%. He also managed to win 59% of his duels. If Messi can take this form with Barcelona and apply it to his performances with Argentina, he will undoubtedly be one of the best players of the tournament.
Bosnia & Herzegovina – Edin Dzeko
Dzeko joined up with his national team mates after winning the Premier League with Manchester City, a victory he contributed to with 16 goals in 31 appearances. According to whoscored.com he averaged 3.3 shots per game in the league this season and finished with a 73.7% pass accuracy. He managed to win 45% of all his duels and created 18 chances for his team mates, one of which resulted in an assist. As mentioned before, Dzeko has been one of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s main threats going forward and combines well with Pjanic. Argentina often have problems in defence and Dzeko certainly has the ability to exploit this.
It may not be as easy for Argentina as some people think but I still expect to them to finish the game with a victory. I think Argentina will defeat Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-1.