Argentina can guarantee their passage into the knockout stages of the World Cup with a victory over Iran in Belo Horizonte on Saturday evening.
Despite conceding early, Bosnia and Herzegovina made it difficult for the Argentinians in the Maracana and it wasn’t until Lionel Messi inspired his team with a second half goal that they started playing in the manner that was expected of them by fans and neutrals alike.
Their opponents Iran played against Nigeria in Group F’s other game earlier this week and it ended in a bore 0-0 draw. However, this probably should have been expected given that Iran conceded the fewest goals in any of the Asian qualifiers.
We have already seen how difficult it can be for Argentina when their opponents are organised at the back. It will be an entirely different challenge for Iran than the one they faced against Nigeria but if they can maintain their defensive organisation, then who’s to say we won’t see another shock at this World Cup?
Rodrigo Palacio is the only injury Argentina currently have in their squad. However, he may yet be available for this game if he is able to pass a late fitness test.
Sardar Azmoun is still suffering with a knock and it is unlikely that he will be able to play for Iran in this match.
- Messi scored only his second World Cup goal in the game against Bosnia, despite playing in three tournaments.
- Argentina have only played Iran once before in a friendly in Madrid, ending in a 1-1 draw.
- There have only been three goalless draws at the World Cup so far, one of which Iran played in.
Argentina – Lionel Messi
Messi finally got the monkey off his back when he scored against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Maracana. However, he was by no means dominating the game before he scored in the second half and it will be interesting to see how he performs in the game against Iran. According to Squawka.com he finished the game against Bosnia with a 33% shooting accuracy and created four chances for his team mates. He missed a lot of passes early in the game but improved as time went on and finished the match with an 80% passing accuracy. He also won 59% of his duels so if Messi can improve on this overall performance, then he could have a massive impact against the Iranians.
Iran – Ashkan Dejagah
Dejagah did not have a great game against Nigeria but that doesn’t mean Argentina can take him for granted. According to Squawka.com Dejagah only managed to finish the game with a 53% passing accuracy and won less than half of all the duels he went into during the match. He did manage to create two chances for his team mates which given the context of the game, he should probably be commended for that. It was by no means a vintage performance by the Fulham midfielder but if he can perform to the standards he demonstrated in the Premier League this season, then Argentina may have another tough match on their hands.
Iran made it tough for Nigeria with their organisation at the back. As we saw in Argentina’s game, they found it difficult coming up against this, however when they moved to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half, they looked much more dangerous. I think that this will combine with the superior ability of the Argentinian players and result in a 3-0 win for Argentina.