World Cup: Group F preview

An interesting mix of style, history and expectation. Argentina, who should stroll in the next stage, represents the establishment, Bosnia-Herzegovina are the debutants, Nigeria could be Africa’s best hope while Iran, with all due respect, has no hope.

Are the stars aligned for Messi & company?

Is this the year Lionel Messi finally comes through on the world stage? (Enrique Zarza/AFP/Getty Images)

An interesting mix of style, history and expectation. Argentina, who should stroll in the next stage, represents the establishment, Bosnia-Herzegovina are the debutantes, Nigeria could be Africa’s best hope while Iran, with all due respect, has no hope.

Teams

Players to Watch

Leo Messi (ARG), Angel Di Maria (ARG), Edin Dzeko (BOS), Miralem Pjanic (BOS), Victor Obinna (NIG), Victor Moses (NIG), Reza Ghoochannejhad (IRA), Javed Nekounam (IRA)

Key Match

June 21, Cuiaba: Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina. The game that will likely decide which team accompanies Argentina into the round of 16. The pressure will be on the Super Eagles who follow this with a daunting task against Messi and company. If Dzeko’s on his game, the Bosnians can cause real problems for the Nigerian back line.

X Factor

Maybe it is all preordained. Argentina’s only previous meeting with Iran took place in a friendly in 1977 -- the year before the South Americans won their first World Cup on home soil. Could this latest encounter be a forerunner to another Argentine triumph?

Outlook

Argentina couldn’t have asked for a kinder draw. Its galaxy of stars is easily capable of winning all three group games and should cruise into the knockout stages. Bosnia’s first ever World Cup could also be memorable if the debutants can tame a powerful Nigeria. Iran’s involvement will be short and probably uncomfortable.

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