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FIFA World Cup 2014: Preview and Predictions - Group F

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A Winter's Tale

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On paper this group should be a walk for one of the favourites Argentina who possess a lot of attacking threat with one of the greatest players to have played the game - Lionel Messi, who hasn't scored at a world cup since 2006! They are up against Bosnia and Herzegovina who have qualified for their first major finals. Not a lot of people know too much about them, but they are a very difficult team to beat and are dangerous up front and scored a lot of goals in qualifying, so I fancy them to be a surprise and reach the last 16. Then there is the young Nigeria team who won the African Cup of Nations 2 years ago, they are considered to be one of the best African sides ever and have a chance of going through, but perhaps they won't have enough about them to gain enough points to finish above Bosnia. Iran are at their first finals since 2006 and again not too many people know a lot about them. I suspect they'll be the whipping boys but as ever with these teams, they could spin a surprise or shock win.

A team I'd quite like to see win the World Cup is Lionel Messi's Argentina. They have got probably the best attack in the entire competition with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria and co but they are far less potent in midfield and defensive areas - although Pablo Zabaleta is an excellent full-back. It would really be quite something if Argentina won the World Cup in Brazil, and they probably stand a better chance than the European teams simply because of geographical advantage. In previous World Cups, Argentina have impressed (at least in an attacking sense) only to stumble at the first tough challenge. Argentina should win the group and they should easily beat Iran and Nigeria and probably Bosnia aswell. They are a team who can win the World Cup, especially if Lionel Messi has a defining month ahead of him, but I suspect their defence will let them down in the end. Their squad is made up of: 7 from Italy (3 from Inter, 2 from Napoli, 1 from Catania and Lazio); 4 from Spain (2 from Barcelona, 1 from Celta Vigo and Real Madrid); 3 from England (Manchester City), Argentina (2 from Boca Juniors and 1 from Newell's Old Boys) and Portugal (2 from Benfica, 1 from Sporting); 2 from France (PSG and Monaco) and 1 from Mexico (Monterrey). With Argentina being so vulnerable at the back, then it seems Argentina need to go out and attack and out score their opponents if they are to win the World Cup. A Maradona-esque World Cup for Lionel Messi would help!

The squad for Bosnia and Herzegovina's first ever appearance has a squad spread out over many countries: 7 from Germany (Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke, Stuggart, Freiburg, Aalen, Hoffenheim, Eintracht Braunschweig); 5 from Turkey (Galatasaray, Gaziantepspor, Kayseri Erciyesspor, Istanbul Basaksehir, Elazigspor); 2 from England (Manchester City and Stoke), Italy (Roma and Lazio), Croatia (Hajduk Split); 1 from Austria (Sturm Graz), Bosnia (Borac Banja Luka), Ukraine (Zorya Luhansk), Hungary (Ferencvaros), China (Guizhou Renhe). Their key players include Manchester City's Edin Dzeko and Roma's energetic playmaker Miralem Pjanic. Bosnia scored 30 goals in 10 qualifying matches and with a 4-2-3-1 formation that will try to field and get the best out of as many attacking players as possible, will make Bosnia and Herzegovina a real threat going forward and they should out score Nigeria and Iran to reach the last 16, and perhaps give Argentina a hard time. Perhaps defence is the weakest area and if the goal dry up then it could be a struggle, but I expect Bosnia and Herzegovina to impress at their first ever major international finals.

After having a poor World Cup in South Africa, since then expectations have increased with Nigeria winning the African Cup of Nations in 2012. They are a fairly solid all-round team with perhaps defence not being the strongest area and I expect this to be a stumbling block for Nigeria's chances. There is a lot expectation on this fairly youthful Nigeria side, so it will be interesting to see how will they'll do at this World Cup. Their star man is Mikel of Chelsea who tends to play better for country. Their directness and quality going forward is an asset they will need to rely on if they are to get out of the group stages and the squad going to Brazil aiming to do just that includes: 6 from England (Newcastle United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Stoke, Norwich); 4 from Nigeria (Enugu Rangers, Warri Wolves, Sunshine Stars, Gombe United); 2 from Belgium (Waasland-Beveren, Cercle Brugge), Turkey (Caykur Risespor, Fenerbanche), Israel (Ashdod, Hapoel Be'er Sheva) ; 1 from France (Lille), Scotland (Celtic), Russia (CSKA Moscow), Spain (Almeria), Italy (Lazio), Ukraine (Volyn Lutsk), Netherlands (Heerenveen).
In a group with the supreme attacking talent of Argentina and also Bosnia, Iran at their first World Cup finals since 2006 are expected to be the whipping boys of the group. They have a squad made up of: 14 from Iran (4 from Esteghlal and Perspolis, 2 from Sepahan, 1 from Naft Tehran, Tractor Sazi, Zob Ahan, Foolad); 2 from England (Charlton and Fulham); 1 from Switzerland (Grasshopper), Canada (Vancouver Whitecaps), Portugal (Sporting Covilha), Spain (Las Palmas), Netherlands (NEC), Qatar (Umm Salal), Kuwait (Al-Kuwait). Under Carlos Queiroz, Iran are somewhat of an unknown quantity and they could be a surprise and their manager will make them organised. But I expect them to be on the end of one or two convincing defeats.

Key games:

Argentina v Bosnia and Herzegovina, 15th June - 11pm: At the home of Brazilian football, Argentina take on Bosnia who will be playing their debut match at a major finals and it could potentially be a game that shapes the outcome of the group.

Nigeria v Bosnia and Herzegovina, 21st June - 11pm: A potential decider for second place.

Predictions:

[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][size=2][background=rgb(248,241,243)]Group F:[/background][/size][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Argentina[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 3-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina, 15[sup]th[/sup] June @ 11pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Iran[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 0-1 Nigeria, 16[sup]th[/sup] June @ 8pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Argentina[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 3-0 Iran, 21[sup]st[/sup] June @ 5pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Nigeria[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 1-2 Bosnia and Herzegovina, 21[sup]st[/sup] Jun @ 11pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Bosnia and Herzegovina[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 3-0 Iran, 25[sup]th[/sup] June @ 5pm[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Nigeria[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 1-3 Argentina, 25[sup]th[/sup] June @ 5pm [/size][/background][/font][/color]

[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Argentina[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 9pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Bosnia and Herzegovina[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 6pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Nigeria[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 3pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]
[color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2]Iran[/size][/background][/font][/color][color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=calibri][background=rgb(248,241,243)][size=2] 0pts[/size][/background][/font][/color]
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