Match: Argentina vs. Iran
Date and Time: Saturday June 21st, 13:00 Local Time, 17:00 BST, 12:00 EDT
Location: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Argentina got their World Cup qualification off to a good start as they defeated newcomers Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-1 in the famed Maracana stadium. The game got off to a fast start as Sead Kolasinac unfortunately scored an own goal in the third minute giving Argentina the 1-0 lead. In the 65th minute, Lionel Messi doubled the advantage as he scored a goal off the post and in. All in all, Argentina played well against a relatively strong Bosnia team, but, if they want to win their first title since 1986, they will have to show much more.
The biggest question mark for Argentina is their defense. In the game on Sunday, Argentina started with a 5-3-2 formation and it worked for the most part. Argentina did invite pressure by the Bosnian attackers and they came close to equalizing before the half. With only a couple of minutes left in the game, Vedad Ibisevic scored to get Bosnia back into the game but his efforts were a bit too late. Messi did play well as he was Argentina’s main threat throughout the match. He used his strengths as he had 7 total successful dribbles (D/G).
We are all aware that Argentina is known for their high powered offense but often struggles on the other end of the ball. The players on the defensive end seem to be more thrown together than have natural chemistry, like the offense have. Don’t get me wrong, the talent is there as Zabaleta, Garay and even Campagnaro play for top notch European clubs, it’s just the fact that Argentina is going through some sort of post Javier Zanetti era and no one has enough national team experience to replace the best defender in Argentine history. Out of everyone that started against Bosnia, Pablo Zabaleta has the most caps with 38. Having no real leader in the defense could ultimately be the demise of Argentina, given the fact Lionel Messi is having trouble replicating his Barcelona form for Argentina.
Another concern is how keeper Sergio Romero will preform. The 27-year-old is currently under contract at Sampdoria but spent the year on loan with AS Monaco. Romero got almost no playing time as he made three Ligue 1 starts. He did make saves when he had to but did let in a rather weak goal from Vedad Ibisevic so it will be interesting to see how he plays when he has to face tougher opposition. Thankfully, Argentina was lucky to be drawn in such an easy group, but depending on who finishes 2nd Group E, Argentina could slowly start to unravel if they don’t start to perform consistently. Thankfully, Iran and Nigeria are up next for Argentina and it should be two easy wins for La Albiceleste
Iran, on the other hand, is coming off a 0-0 draw against Nigeria on Monday. Iran were predicted not to have much of an impact in that group, but are still alive and have a chance to pip 2nd place. There was not much to take away from that game offensively for Iran’s sake, but they did perform well defensively as the Nigeria’s attack couldn’t get a single goal. Iran had a fantastic qualification in the AFC as they topped their group and qualified directly. Iran did not get too much out of attacking midfielder Ashkan Dejagah who is their biggest offensive weapon that they have. Iran have to try and subdue Argentina and their lethal attack. Coach Carlos Queiroz will have to play counter attacking football and may change-up the 4-2-3-1 formation he used against Nigeria.
Despite not taking many positives from Monday’s tie, Iran did get a solid performance out of left back Mehrdad Pooladi. Pooladi had 9 successful clearances in the match against Nigeria as he derailed the attacks from Nigeria and controlled the back line with Jalal Hosseini. Iran will also need a good game from Javad Nekounam as he normally controls the midfield. Nekounam is the captain of the team and has 141 appearances in 14 years for Iran. He will be used mainly to start the counter attack when Iran has the chance to. He played on the same side as Dejagah did against Nigeria but the two could not create any magic.
ARD Das Erste
beIN SPORTS 1 HD
beIN SPORTS 2 HD
beIN SPORTS 11 HD
beIN SPORTS 13 HD
beIN SPORTS 1 HD FR
ORF eins HD
ARD Das Erste HD
BBC ONE HD
La Deux HD
RTS Deux HD
SRF ZWEI HD
RSI LA 2
RSI LA 2 HD
Can You Watch Match Live Here Link 1 link 2 live scores