Argentina will be up against Iran in what is being portrayed as a David v Goliath-esque match. This will be the second match for both the teams in the Group F, and will be played at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Saturday, June 21.
Argentina, ranked fifth by the game’s governing body FIFA finished their cup opener as winners against a Bosnia and Herzegovina side that was featuring in the world cup finals for the very first time. The European team are being considered as one of the favourites to make the second round from Group F considering the fact that their strikers scored an enormous 30 goals in the qualification stages of the main tournament. Therefore, and despite their first-timers’ tag, a win against such a strong opposition will lend a lot of confidence to an Argentine side whose defence is not too highly-rated by the pundits.
Iran, on the other hand, are ranked 43rd in the world in the Coca-Cola FIFA world rankings and seemed to have done well to notch up a point in their draw against Nigeria in their opening group match. However, for a team that has won just one game in their history of World Cup finals, and garnered just five points before the start of this edition, Argentina will prove to be quite a handful.
Argentina were billed as one of the favourites to make the semis at this World Cup which also shows in the fact that major bookmakers are all angling towards a win for Argentina at stupefying odds of 1/7 (BetVictor).
While their defence has been somewhat fragile and coach Alejandro Sabella might have some thinking to be done there, they will, for now, draw a lot of heart from the manner in which the team defended against the likes of Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic in the opener. Of course, Bosnia did manage to pull a goal back, which was something of a dampener.
By then, however, Argentina were nearly home and dry by then as they led from the very outset through an own goal. Four time Ballon d’Or winner and captain of the Argentina national football team, Lionel Messi, made it 2-0 with an absolutely amazing strike from the edge of the area in the second half to put the game beyond doubt.
Messi collected the ball near the centre circle and exchanged a couple of one-two’s with substitute Gonzalo Higuain who found a marauding Messi in space as the latter weaved past his opponents like a shadow to score past Asmir Begovic with an extremely well placed effort.
And it is no surprise then, that Messi is the favourite to open the scoring in this one again with odds of 5/2 (Unibet). Sergio Aguero, who had a quiet opening game, comes in second in this market at 37/10 (Unibet).
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, who hails from Portugal, has a tough job on his hands as the Asian team look to defend hard and try and beat the opposition defence on the counter.
The last and only time the two teams met at the international stage, the match finished at 1-1. Although they do not have stars in their team who turn out regularly for European club sides, there is a togetherness and a brotherhood in the Iranian team, but whether that’s enough to earn them a point, remains to be seen.
Here are my recommendations:
Messi to score anytime: 5/9 (Unibet)
Argentina to win to nil: 4/7 (Ladbrokes)
Over 2.5 goals to be scored: 4/7 (bet365)