The FourFourTwo Preview: Argentina vs Iran
The tournament's dullest team attempt to halt tournament's greatest player.
Somebody was always going to stink out the joint, and that somebody was Iran. Sure, Honduras quickly earned the tag of tournament hatchet men following some rough-handed approach to tackling, but when it comes to drawing yawns, no-one does it quite like Carlos Queiroz's boys.
Phil Neville warned the watching world that Iran would be the most organised team of the tournament, given his experience of working under the manager's tactical blueprints. But in successfully stifling Nigeria, they produced a draw in which commentary quickly became a highlight. They will need to be at their unadventurous worst again if they're to get anything from this game.
For Argentina, the tournament started slowly against a physical and savvy Bosnia side. Messi's flash of magic for their second goal could be a watershed moment, however: in Iran and Nigeria, chances will fall his way; he will find more space to supply the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero. A drubbing is on the cards.
What the local media say
"The two sides meet in Belo Horizonte on Saturday with a lopsided victory for the twice champion South Americans the only result expected against the limited, defensive Asians. 'It will require a miracle since Argentina is one of the best teams in the world and also they have one day of rest more than we do,' the former Portugal coach [Carlos Queiroz] said." - Buenos Aires Herald.
"The former Manchester United assistant is convinced his side still have a chance in a group which also includes Argentina and Bosnia. 'I am very happy but it was very difficult, we played against a great team and it was necessary to play a realistic game," Queiroz said. 'I think we did well, we fought for every ball and every space, and we played 90 minutes with one thing on our mind; the first opportunity to score,'" he added. 'It was a game that I need to praise my players, they deserve to be congratulated. We kept the team in the tournament and now we have Argentina. The most important thing is that everything is open for us.'" - Fars News.
Key battle: Lionel Messi v Iran. All of them
The key question: how to stop Lionel Messi? Even with a clutch of Bosnian defenders trailing him for long periods, he was able to sidewind his way goalwards to score Argentina's second. In those moments, he becomes too good to handle. This threat is one of several banging headaches for Queiroz to medicate, but it will need a team effort to halt Argentina's creative fulcrum - Messi can impact the game from a variety of positions on the pitch. Failing that, they could just resort to kicking him.
Facts and figures
- This is Argentina and Iran’s first World Cup encounter.
- Lionel Messi has scored 1 goal in 1 game at the 2014 World Cup, that’s already as many as in his 8 games at the World Cups 2006 and 2010 combined.
- The last 2 goals Iran have scored at World Cups have come from corners (both in 2006).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
An easy 3-0 win for Argentina.