World Cup Group F | Rio de Janeiro | Sun 15 Jun | 11pm
One of the favourites versus the only first-timers.
Argentina should walk a comfortable group, but in some ways they might prefer to be tested for fear of being undercooked ahead of a potential quarter-final with Germany.
While their Fantastic Four strikeforce of Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and, of course, Lionel Messi will fancy their chances of running up a cricket score against a Bosnia-Herzegovina back five that includes no players of note apart from Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic, they should at least be asked some questions at the back.
A vampire-esque weakness against crosses combined with the aerial threat of Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic – prompted by Roma schemer Miralem Pjanic – who scored eight headers between them in qualifying, should prepare them for tougher tests head.
And more importantly, both teams’ attacking approach – what other choice do they have? – should make for an open game, not least because Bosnia, with more winnable games against Iran and Nigeria to come, have little to lose from this one and should be fired up ahead of their World Cup debuts.
What the local media say
‘In Messi we trust’ this week, while Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz reported that a Brazilian journalist gave coach Pape Susic a lucky necklace ahead of the team’s World Cup debut. Which charm will come out on top?
Key battle: Martin Demichelis vs Edin Dzeko
Despite an unconvincing season with Manchester City – although it did improve – Demichelis’s knowledge of his club-mate could be crucial given Argentina’s weakness at defending crosses. If the rangy Dzeko and strike partner Ibisevic can be starved of aerial balls to attack, Argentina should have too much for Bosnia’s equally shaky rearguard.
Facts and figures
- Argentina have won 9 and lost just 1 of their last 12 World Cup group games (D2), scoring 24 and conceding just 4 in total in this run.
- La Albiceleste have only mustered 2 wins in their last 9 World Cup games against European sides, drawing 4 and losing 3.
- Argentina have won both previous internationals against the Dragons (both friendlies), scoring 7 and conceding 0.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
A high-scoring win for Argentina. 4-2.