With Argentina top of Group F and already qualified for the next round it is a battle between Nigeria and Iran to see who will advance. Bosnia and Herzegovina are already eliminated while Iran need to get a win and hope for a big enough Nigeria loss that their goal difference can see them move into second. Nigeria need only a draw to ensure that they advance, but a win for them against Argentina would see them take Group F as winners.
Nigeria v Argentina – Wednesday, June 25 @ 12pm:
Nigeria and Argentina have met in three previous World Cups in 2010, 2002, and 1994, and each time Argentina has come through as winners. Nigeria has a decent squad, but lack a true goal scorer. This can be seen in the fact they have scored just one goal so far. They have yet to allow a goal, which is a positive for them, but will be facing a much more potent attacking threat on Wednesday.
Argentina come into this match with very little in the way of momentum. Despite having one of the best players in the world along with some of the best offensive players in the world, they have scored just three goals and narrowly defeated Iran 1-0 in stoppage time. I would say that, despite scoring the winner against Iran, Lionel Messi has yet to make the difference that he should be making for this Argentina team.
My prediction is an Argentina win. Messi would do well to find his shooting boots for this one and Nigeria could certainly make it interesting. While they may not have the greatest of attacking options, they do have a fairly solid midfield and defense that could frustrate Argentina, much like Iran did.
Bosnia-Herzegovina v Iran – Wednesday, June 25 @ 12pm:
With Bosnia-Herzegovina going out of the World Cup, they will be hoping to salvage at least a point. They were very hard done by in their 1-0 loss to Nigeria. Not only did they have a perfectly good goal taken back by a linesman’s offside call, but they then did not get a clear foul call given which led to Nigeria’s only goal.
Against Iran they will need to turn on their attack like they did in qualifying, particularly against an Iranian team that very nearly held off Argentina. Iran do have more of the momentum coming in to Wednesday despite having lost 1-0. It was a valiant effort and one that should have resulted in at least a point. They really should have been given a penalty but, again, a referee’s mistake led to them being denied.
My prediction is a draw, but I could certainly see either side win this one. Bosnia-Herzegovina has seemed to change their style of play now that they are in the World Cup. If they revert back to their more attacking style used in qualifiers, it could be a different game. It could also be more open and leave Iran with more opportunities.