World Cup Group F preview: Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Argentina will play Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, June 16, from 8am (AEST).

Head-to-head

Played 2, Argentina 2 wins.

Last match: Argentina 2-0 Bosnia-Herzegovina, November 2013.

The game

This match will be the very first fixture in Group F and will highlight any strengths and weaknesses within both teams.

Argentina will hope to assert their dominance in the group with a victory against an offensively dangerous opponent, while Bosnia-Herzegovina will look to test an Argentine defense that can be seen as a weakness within a squad filled with attacking stars.

On paper, the Argentinian midfield and striking options are worthy of a World Cup final, however they must capitalise on their talent and nullify Bosnia-Herzegovina's attacking options to prepare themselves for more capable opponents later in the competition.

The big issue

For Argentina, it's defence. While there's experience at the back with  Manchester City duo Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta, experience can only take you so far. Players such as Benfica's Ezequiel Garay and Napoli's Federico Fernandez must be at the top of their game to keep it together at the back.

Bosnia-Herzegovina will need to use their attack as a defensive safeguard. While Emir Spahic brings plenty of experience to the back-line, a lack of world class defensive talent could make it easy pickings for Argentina's talented strikers. Keeping the ball high up the field is a necessity for the World Cup newcomers, and with Manchester City's Edin Dzeko leading from the front, there could be a few opportunities made available to test the South American defence.

Game breaker

Since coach Alejanadro Sabella took over the Argentina national team in 2011 and made Lionel Messi the team captain, the Argentine superstar has been in incredible form for his country.

Scoring 10 goals in 14 World Cup qualifiers, Messi will be a key part of any attacking movement Argentina makes, and a good performance against Bosnia-Herzegovina could be the perfect catalyst for an impressive World Cup campaign.

For Bosnia-Herzegovina, Edin Dzeko has scored 10 of the nation’s 30 goals in World Cup qualifying and added six assists, making him the star player in this squad.
Going up against his Manchester City team-mates Sergio Aguero, Demichelis and Zabaleta, the tall Bosnian striker will be familiar with the defensive capabilities of the opposition, as well as the threat posed by Sergio Aguero. Can Dzeko exploit any weaknesses? The final result in this match could depend on it.

Prediction

The Bosnia-Herzegovina defence won't be able to cope with the speed and talent in the Argentine offence, and will probably fall short of winning their first World Cup match.