Group F is arguably the least exciting Group in the tournament, contested by a potential champion and 3 inexperienced, not world class sides- Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria.
Argentina have unmatched firepower in attack, and although they have a suspect defence, some underrated talents are there, such as Ezequiel Garay and Pablo Zabaleta. Their attack is one player better than the other, with Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Champions League winner Angel Di Maria joining Lionel Messi in arguably the most prolific attack in the entire tournament (arguable against Germany). Javier Mascherano of Barcelona plays his preferred anchor defensive midfield role for his country, and Argentina will be hoping that their home advantage over some of the European heavyweights will help them in their search for their 3rd World Cup win. If manager Sabella gets it right, Argentina will be incredibly hard to beat.
Bosnia-Herzegovina have a remarkably talented squad considering it is their first time in the World Cup. In the football-hungry nation, people are trying to avoid heartbreak and disappointment. Half Canadian, half Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has opted to play for the latter, and he will be central to any hopes of Bosnia’s. Miralem Pjanic is a fantastic midfielder for Roma in the Italian Serie A, and he will be hoping to carry the form to the World Cup. Edin Dzeko is the face of the Bosnian team, and if he plays like he has for Manchester City this season, he will carry Bosnia to the next round.
Iran have virtually no chance of advancing to the next round of the World Cup. With very few players on the international stage, eyes will be on relatively unknown players to deliver. Reza Ghoochannejhad is the the face of the team, whereas Fulham attacking midfielder/winger Ashkan Dejagah has quite an eye for sniping shots that could catch any goalkeeper off guard.
Nigeria have some of the most passionate fans in Africa, and they are the only African team with realistic chances of advancing to the quarterfinals, being part of the same hole that was mentioned about Switzerland and France in Group E. With Ivory Coast in a deadlock with Japan, Algeria destined to finish 3rd in the Group, Cameroon being by far the worst team in Group A, and Ghana behind Germany, Portugal, and at the moment USA, Nigeria will be carrying all hopes for Africa. The hopes will lie in the shoulders of star midfielder John Obi Mikel, along with physical, pacey Chelsea reject Victor Moses.
Strengths by Position:
Asmir Begovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina is by far the best goalkeeper in the Group. This is Argentina’s weakest spot on the field, but Serge Romero is still an able option. Vincent Enyeama played his part in the best defence in the French Ligue 1, and he will be looking to take his solid LOSC Lille form into the world cup.
- Asmir Begovic, Bosnia-Heregovina
- Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria
- Serge Romero, Argentina
Pablo Zabaleta is the 3rd best right-back in the World, but other than him, fullback options are scarce. Marcos Rojo would be the 2nd best in the Group, also for Argentina.
- Pablo Zabaleta, Argentina
- Serge Romero, Argentina
In terms of centre backs, Ezequiel Garay has been very good recently for Benfica. He has been linked to Bayern Munich. Federico Fernandez is a talented centre back for Argentina.
- Ezequiel Garay, Argentina
- Federico Fernandez, Argentina
The anchor defensive midfield role is one that is very important in setups that do not play with an attack-defence balance. Javier Mascherano will star here for Argentina.
The box-to-box midfield area has all of the team engines. Fernando Gago will likely start here for Argentina and John Obi Mikel will play a role similar to this for Argentina. Although he will play further up the pitch, Miralem Pjanic will still track back like a modern box-to-box midfielder.
- Miralem Pjanic, Bosnia-Herzegovina
- John Obi Mikel, Nigeria
- Fernando Gago, Argentina
In attacking midfield or the number 10, players play either a fluent, moving, speedy style or they stick to a technical, precise role. Angel Di Maria will play the first type for Argentina, and so will Ashkan Dejagah for Iran.
- Angel Di Maria, Argentina
- Ashkan Dejagah, Iran
The winger position is full of pacey talent that is technical and needs to be precise. Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi play here for Argentina, and Victor Moses will likely play here for Nigeria.
- Lionel Messi, Argentina
- Sergio Aguero, Argentina
- Victor Moses, Nigeria
At striker, there are some valuable options. Premier League striker Peter Odemwingie plays here for Nigeria, alongside young striker Ahmed Musa. Gonzalo Higuain is a star for Argentina, while Vedad Ibisevic plays alongside Edin Dzeko in Bosnia’s XI.
- Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina
- Edin Dzeko, Bosnia-Herzegovina
- Vedad Ibisevic, Bosnia-Herzegovina
- Ahmed Musa, Nigeria
- Peter Odemwingie, Nigeria
Previews and Predictions:
Argentina vs Bosnia-Herzegovina:
Argentina will try and run over any tactical battles that appear in this match, even though there are only 2. If Bosnia can even grab a point, they will almost certainly advance.
The Engine Room: Miralem Pjanic and Fernando Gago will hit the showdown, in a tactical battle that will ask lots of creativity and high work-rate. Expect Bosnia to win here.
Argentina Defence: The toughest tactical battle will be Garay and Fernandez vs Ibisevic and Dzeko, and although Bosnia have the tools to win here, they won’t hit the ground running and they will succumb to pressure. Argentina will win here and across the entire pitch.
Bosnia won’t be around on the day, and this will cause them the match.
Prediction: Argentina 2-1 Bosnia; Goals, Aguero, Higuain, Dzeko; MOTM Messi
Messi will create all the goals for Argentina in a convincing performance. Dzeko will score a consolation from a set piece.
Iran vs Nigeria:
Iran will want at least a point to take back to Asia, and many believe that their best chance is here. Nigeria will want to finish the first round of fixtures in the group in 2nd.
Ashkan Dejagah vs John Obi Mikel: The creative forces of each side will need to outplay each other. Expect Nigeria to win, but Ashkan Dejagah could do well.
Prediction: Iran 0-1 Nigeria; Goals, Musa; MOTM Musa
Nigeria will move to 2nd in the group.
Argentina vs Iran:
A win for Argentina would almost guarantee that they win the group. Iran will look to pull an upset that no one would even imagine, and if they pull it off, they could advance to the knockouts.
Argentina win across the pitch here. Dejagah will struggle greatly against Mascherano.
Prediction: Argentina 4-0 Iran; Goals, Higuain, Messi (2), Di Maria; MOTM Messi
Messi will pull forward in the race for the golden boot and ball in the biggest rout of the Group Stages.
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Nigeria:
Bosnia will need to win to avoid goal difference as a deciding factor. Nigeria need to do just the same.
John Obi Mikel vs Miralem Pjanic: Mikel will need to stop Pjanic in a tough battle for the Nigerian. Expect him to lose here, but he won’t be forced to defend.
Bosnia wins in their attack, Bosnia loses in defence, and Moses wins on his wing.
Prediction: Bosnia 2-1 Nigeria; Goals, Dzeko, Ibisevic, Odemwingie; MOTM Dzeko
At this point, Bosnia will be chanting in the crowd, as a victory against Iran seems inevitable.
Argentina vs Nigeria:
Nigeria need a win at this point, as Bosnia will be firing on all cylinders against Iran. Argentina have already won the group, unless Bosnia or Nigeria pull out some amazing goal difference. Argentina win across the pitch and nothing will prevent them from getting what they need to win the Group.
Prediction: Argentina 2-0 Nigeria; Goals, Aguero, Di Maria; MOTM Messi
Argentina’s front 4 will exit the Group Stages with 2 goals each. Bosnia need an Iran draw to advance.
Bosnia vs Iran:
Bosnia win across the pitch in a match that is irrelevant if Nigeria only have 3 points. A win from a hyped Bosnia is inevitable.
Prediction: Bosnia 3-0 Iran; Goals, Dzeko (2), Pjanic; MOTM Dzeko
The face of the Bosnian National Team will end a fairy tale start to the World Cup adventures of the nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Argentina take 1st and Bosnia steal 2nd.
Match Schedule for Group F (Eastern Time):
Argentina vs Bosnia: June 15 @ 6pm
Iran vs Nigeria: June 16 @ 3pm
Argentina vs Iran: June 21 @ 12pm
Nigeria vs Bosnia: June 21 @ 6pm
Argentina vs Nigeria: June 25 @ 12pm
Bosnia vs Iran: June 25 @ 12pm
Will Argentina and Bosnia advance? We really don’t know what will happen. Be sure to tune into Group F at the World Cup on your TV and on Entertainment Revisited.