The FIFA World Cup Kickaround, Halftime, and Postgame Thread #1 For 6/25/14: Group F Finales (First Version)
FT: Nigeria 2-3 Argentina; Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-1 Iran
A day after his 27th birthday, Lionel Messi gave himself two joyous belated gifts to continue erasing all arguments from his international career naysayers.
Although Angel Di Maria is almost deserving of the same great plaudits, Messi tactically exposed young Onazi throughout and produced the best direct free kick of the tournament. When you leave Vincente Enyeama of all goalkeeper's motionless, you have hit a special free kick. And that he did superbly.
The attack at least today for Argentina wasn't just all about Messi, as Di Maria played by far his best game of the group stage. But Alejandro Sabella will have to be concerned with two things.
An ailing Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain haven't even gotten a proper sniff in front of goal, while the backline again opened up too easily especially on Ahmed Musa's second goal.
It was a breakout performance for Musa after a disappointing first two games for him, as he was given the chance to play on the right today as Victor Moses was mysteriously unavailable. It could turn out to be the move that makes Musa a real threat for the rest of his time in Brazil, as the CSKA Moscow man gave the world a glimpse of why he is an underrated rising talent.
It would have been utterly cruel for Bosnia to not receive a point in their trip to Brazil with their quality, and they prevented that today with a clinical victory.
Star men Pjanic and Dzeko brought their global renowned reputations to the Samba land and got the goals their play deserved. Muhamed Besic, despite his temperament, is a real defensive midfielder to watch in the next few weeks. His great energy, desire, and ability to help an attack is what will make him an intriguing buy for someone in a UEFA Big 5 league.
Meanwhile, Carlos Queiroz's side has nothing to be ashamed of after a great first two matches that still resulted in them having to leave their defensive shape a bit today. They just couldn't produce the impenetrable object that they featured against Nigeria and almost did against Argentina. It will be a challenge for them to make the next World Cup with Jevad Nekounam among others likely seeing his last World Cup play today.
Photo from Getty Images.com
For Nigeria, Onazi will be assigned on Messi mostly today, while Mikel will sit deeper and hope to frustrate Aguero enough when he tries to move in between the backline. How Ambrose deals with Di Maria coming in with his great energetic runs will be vital as well.
Emenike simply must bring the quality he showed in the last game and stretch the Argentine backline.
Iran-Bosnia Tatical Thoughts
For Iran to go through today, Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi have to give the best two-way performances of their international career. Hajsafi has the pace to try and make it happen, while Shojaei has the class in his shoes to produce it.
Still, they are well cognizant of how they will have to track back to help negate Pjanic's creativity for the front two while being aware of the drive from midfield that Muhamed Besic will offer up at any time.
(Halftime thoughts to come)......