Argentina V Nigeria Preview: Saturday, 12th June (Group B)

10th June 2010 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Previews & Predictions
World Cup Previews & Predictions

 

Argentina V Nigeria

Kick-off: Saturday, 12th June – 15:00 GMT
Stadium: Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
Group B

 

Argentina

Argentina, two-time winners of the competition in 1978 and 1986, will go about ending a 24 year wait for the FIFA World Cup on South Africa soil. The man at helm couldn’t be any more controversial, their star-studded winger is the best player in the world while the support back home is passionate, so you’re getting a mixture of everything with Argentina, but are we getting any sort of vibe that Argentina will become the first country to win a FIFA World Cup on the African continent? If there suspect route to South Africa is a sample of things to come then perhaps not.

When Diego Maradona was appointed Argentina manager in 2008 despite next to no managerial experience whatsoever, definitely not at international level, La Albiceleste followers were expecting big things under the guidance of a cult hero, a person like no other in the football world in that many regard him as the greatest footballer of all time. Combine this with their new prodigy, Lionel Messi, who has burst onto the scene at such a young age, seemingly fulfilling his potential already despite being just 22 years-old, and it’s not at all surprising when the entire footballing world stood up with raised eyebrows as Argentina continued to flirt with the possibility of their being no World Cup for what would have been the first time since 1970. Fortunately for the loyal Argentine supporters, and Maradona for that matter as he could have been out of a job had circumstances been otherwise, Argentina somehow clawed their way into fourth position to snatch the final World Cup berth.

If Argentina were a tad unconvincing during qualifying, there was nothing at all unnerving about their one and only warm up game ahead of South Africa. On May 24th, Argentina recorded their most emphatic win to date under Maradona when smashing Canada 5-0 in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. Despite goals from Rodriguez (2), Tevez, Aguero and Maria, there was still no room for Messi on the score sheet and this age old debate about whether Messi really brings his A-game to the table for his country continues to drag on. There is no doubt whatsoever that Lionel Messi is the stand out performer in the Argentina ranks, a player so pivotal that when he doesn’t perform to his usual high standard as when at Barcelona, Argentina struggle immensely, as they did throughout qualifying. Messi denies that he hasn’t committed enough when wearing an Argentina shirt and has a fabulous opportunity to prove many doubters wrong in South Africa. After a prolific season with Barcelona in Spain, racking up a ridiculous tally of 47 goals in 53 games, there’s every chance Messi will set a few records straight over the course of the tournament.

While the majority of the spotlight will fall on Lionel Messi, after all he is the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, we cannot disregard the rest of the team, as Diego Maradona has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. However, there are two areas which are key from a punters perspective, with the first being up front. Maradona has the luxury of calling on one of five supremely talented forwards: Diego Milito, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain and, of course, Lionel Messi. It’s quite apparent that Argentina, just by looking at their list of forwards, have goals in them and that their best tactic for winning any game is by outscoring their opponent. Their defence has yet to convince me, and it will need to if they wish to delve deep into the tournament, but until then their sparkling forward line up will ensure they start every single one of their group games clear favourites, starting with this encounter against Nigeria, which they should win with something to spare.

 

Nigeria

Nigeria’s previous World Cup best was a Round of 16 progression back in 1994 and again the following finals in 1998. Back in the 90’s, Nigeria shown a bit of consistency by qualifying for the knock-outs in two successive finals, and in 1994 their group contained two teams they’ll face at this summer’s show-piece in Group A; Greece and their Saturday opponents Argentina. 16 years later and they’ll do battle with the same foes, with the aim being to emulate their successful passage through a then tough group. However, on route to a Round of 16 defeat, Nigeria suffered one defeat in the group and it won’t take you long, after us bring it to your attention with a hint, who that team was…

Argentina were one of two teams to record a win over the ‘Super Eagles’ in the ’94 finals although did little to thwart Nigeria’s progress then. Defeat to the Argies in Johannesburg however and Nigeria may not be as prosperous. This is a huge game for Nigeria, as most opening games are to every country, but a result against Argentina, even if it’s a solitary point, would serve them well as they will take solace from the fact their remaining two group encounters won’t be as daunting. You could say this game is arguably their most important, as an early defeat would be a significant setback as it would leave Nigeria needing to win both of their remaining group games just to stand any chance of progressing from the group for the first time since 1998 in France.

The African ‘Super Eagles’ probably aren’t going to spring a big surprise be becoming the first African team to win the World Cup but they do have some talented individuals in their midst which should see them put in a respectable performance nonetheless. Their defence packs a punch in terms of physical presence, with Joseph Yobo and Taiwo in particular fine specimens and won’t easily be shrugged off the ball of easy to get beyond. It’s the same principle in the centre of midfield, with a robust Dickson Etuhu marshalling the middle of the park as the likes of Odemwingie and Kalu Uche look to huse their pace to sprint down the touchline’s and provide adequate enough service to a talented forward line containing one of several recognised strikers. Yakubu’s strenght will see him win most of the aerial battles that come his way, while he’ll be difficult to shrug off the ball, while Martins, formerly of Newcastle United, Victor Obinna and Chinedu Obasi all have an abundance of pace and it will be interesting to see if they can utilise their quick acceleration and turn of foot to get past the Argentine centre-back pairing of Martin Demichelis and Walter Samuel, who aren’t the fastest defenders in the world nor are they the best tacklers.

Nigeria do have the raw materials to be a nifty little footballing nations; strength and pace their two main assets. The one thing they do lack is technical ability, something their opponents certainly don’t. Nigeria will look to overpower their more glamorous opponents and try to get in behind the Argentina defence with the pace of either Obafemi Martins or Victor Obinna. Yakubu is almost impossible to get the ball off so Nigeria could enjoy some luck in the final third if they get their tactics and forward partnerships spot on and coherent. It’s their defence where the problems lye. While they will be a match for anyone with their strength and their robust attitudes, they arne’t the smartest. The positive, though, is coach Lars Lagerback will have worked tirelessly on getting the Nigeria defence up to scratch, organised and drilled it home that they need to remain disciplined throughout. Any lack of concentration and they will be punished.

 

Match Odds:

Argentina – 1.50 PaddyPower
Draw – 4.30 VCbet
Nigeria – 8.50 Coral

 

Match Verdict: Argentina to WIN – 1.50 PaddyPower

We envisage and expect nothing less than a victory for the South American’s in their first of what should be many encounters in South Africa on Saturday. The quality they have up front is breathtaking, while it’s equally complimented by two menacing wingers by the name of Lionel Messi, who you may have heard of, and Ange Di Maria, a player not so familiar with the part-time football followers but the Benfica winger is a player with a bright future ahead of him.

We simply see Argentina’s technical prowess being too much for the Nigeria defence, although we don’t for one minute reckon the Argies will roll Nigeria over. If the ‘African Eagles’ fail to turn up then sure, an Argentina rout is a real possibility, but we were impressed with Nigeria’s capture of manager Lars Lagerback, a manager not short of World Cup knowledge after guiding Sweden, who he managed for nearly a decade, to a Round of 16 finish before losing to hosts Germany. His tactical know-how will serve Nigera well over the course of the tournament and they aren’t without a fighting chance of sneaking a positive result here.

We will, however, play safe and punt on Argentina, a team which thrived on disappointing their adoring fans during qualifying, finally coming good and putting their array of striking talent to good use.

 

Our Recommenced Bet(s): Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.88 Bodog – and – Both Teams to Score @ 2.10 WilliamHill

We see goals in this game. It’s difficult not to looking at the probable Argentina starting eleven. However, we reckon Nigeria will make this a competitive affair and think Yakubu’s hold-up play will be complimented nicely be the pace of either Martins or Obinna. Believe me, this Argentina defence isn’t bombproof and it won’t take a performance seismic proportion for Nigeria to find the back of Romero’s goal.




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