Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina have met once before in a friendly in the past year. Argentina won 2-0, but what will transpire this summer? Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina

You cannot go to any part of the footballing world and not hear neutral supporters and Argentinian’s alike talking about their chances this summer.  Led by the heir apparent to Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Argentina look poised to make a mad-dash through the group stage and deep into the knockout stage, with many pegging them to reach the final and hoping it is against Brazil.  with Messi looking to finally cast his doubters aside who question his international record, so contrasting to his numbers at Barcelona, he and his team mates are hungry to shine on South American Soil.

The only thing missing from Lionel Messi’s trophy cabinet, is what matters the most to both himself and his country – the World Cup. Mandatory Credit: Rondeau/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports

Bosnia-Herzegovina did incredibly well to reach their first World Cup in their nations short history since the splitting away from the former Yugoslavia.  Led by Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko,Bosnia have quite a formidable team, with a good combination of experienced internationals as well as young and vibrate players.  The history of their national team is just beginning to be created, and while its hard to tell where they go from here, they will certainly play like this is their first and last major tournament

With immense national pride, Bosnia are in their first World Cup and looking to make a statement – they have the players to do it. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Will Argentina blitz their way through Bosnia, the group and deep into the tournament with Messi at the tip of the spear? Can Dzeko and Bosnia’s fervent national passion drive them towards a potential upset?  Both sides have glaring strengths and weaknesses, but one thing is for sure, this will be a high-scoring thriller.  Here is our preview and predictions.

Projected starting XI’s

Argentina: Sergio Romero; Marcos Rojo, Ezequiel Garay, Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta; Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago; Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero; Gonzalo Higuain

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Asmir Begovic; Sead Kolasinac, Emir Spahic, Muhamed Besic, Mensur Mujdza; Miralem Pjanic, Zvjezdan Misimovic; Senad Lulic, Sejad Salihovic; Izet Hajrovic; Edin Dzeko

Key’s for Argentina

– Their defensive shape must be completely spot on, and it’s going to take the combined efforts of Garay and Demichelis to keep Dzeko quiet.  Demichelis plays with him at City, so he will have some incite.

– Mascherano and Gago must keep Pjanic under lock and key throughout.  Pjanic is one of the least talked about playmakers in all of Europe, but he has bags of talent.  If he pulls the strings as he can, Argentina will be found out.

– Let Messi do what Messi does best.  This is not Barca, so he will not look to score nearly as much, but the creativity and movement up front that Messi has around him is an absolute horror story for every defense in the tournament, Bosnia included.

Key’s for Bosnia

– Veteren Misimovic must keep Pjanic protected.  Bosnia have other creative players in their side like Salihovic and Lulic, but Pjanic is at the top of the food chain for them – if he shines, they shine. Simple as that.

– Keep the service coming to Dzeko.  Even if he is man-marked and sometimes double-marked all match long, he has such quality in the box that even if he gets half a chance, Bosnia will get on the scoresheet.  Demichelis will know how to handle him, but that will work both ways as well.

– They must, at all costs, not risk their wing backs up the pitch too much.  It will be the death of them and the nail in the coffin if they allow Argentina’s front four the ability to gallop as well as having too much time on the ball – they must defend like warrior.

Key Battles

– Demichelis v Dzeko – As highlighted before, the pair of them play their club football together at Manchester City, and they will know the other inside and out.  Whoever wins this match up may well earn his nation the full three points come the end of 90minutes.

– Mascherano v Pjanic – He’s not ad feared as years past, but Mascherano is still quite difficult to match up against.  His sole purpose in life will be to keep Pjanic in his back pocket and if he does, the supply lines to Dzeko and others will be in considerable danger.

– Argentina’s front-four v Bosnia’s back-four – Truthfully, this is where the match will be won, lost or end in a stalemate.  It is hard to argue against Argentina having the most feared attack in the entire tournament apart from Germany, and it will be up to the Bosnian defense to leave it all on the field if they have any chance of coming away with something.

There will be too many key battles to mention between these two, and surely Seas Kolasinac (left) will both have his hands full for the whole 90minutes, especially with Messi and Aguero. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Staff match predictions

Drew: Much like their previous friendly, I see Argentina winning this one, but it won’t be comfortable by any means.  Argentina are a little better at the back than in years past, but Bosnia have such quality that I think they can nip a goal or two at the other end.  That said, they don’t have the quality at the back to keep Messi and his companions quiet.  3-2 Argentina.

Young: Much like Drew, I will go with 3-2 to Argentina.  They have so much quality in attack that it’s impossible for Bosnia to shut them down and they’ll always look like scoring on each attack.  But Bosnia will make it interesting, especially with Dzeko, and they’ll get a couple in a good attacking performance that shows they fear no one.

Charles: Simple – Messi, Aguero and Higuain (we don’t even have to mention Di Maria) are far too talented to contain.  I don’t fancy Bosnia to get anything at the other end, as Argentina are so good attacking that Bosnia may have to defend even more than expected to try to cope.  3-0 to Argentina is my prediction.

Tags: 2014 World Cup Argentina Bosnia-Herzegovina Preview And Predictions Soccer

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