Saturday, June 21, 2014

Argentina 1 Iran 0

Reports of the demise of Lionel Messi have been greatly exaggerated…so says Lionel Messi.

Alejandro Sabella went with the second-half lineup of Argentina’s win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, that meant the quadruple of Higuain, Messi, Di Maria, and Aguero all started.  Regardless, 70% possession for the South Americans only gave them five shots on target — just two more than Iran’s three.

Indeed, the Iranians have much to be proud about, even in defeat.  They kept the South American powerhouse off the board for a full 90 minutes, had a penalty claim turned down, and were denied by a tremendous Sergio Romero save.  Yet, all it took was Messi screaming “get off me” and curling a shot around Alireza Haghighi at the last minute to leave Iran without a share of the spoils.

Group F has been one of the ugliest in the tournament so far, without a truly sparkling team performance of which to speak just yet.  It means Argentina have advanced thanks to Messi (really, thanks to Messi not carrying Diego Maradona’s insanely heavy baggage like in 2010), but still need to show more if it harbors dreams of a deep run.  Meanwhile, even should Nigeria beat Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran will still be alive in its own match against the Europeans in the group’s closing fixture.  Carlos Queiroz has an organized side, but one that seems to lack the necessary attacking thrust at this level.

No Short Corners Man of the Match: #10.

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