Expectations: part six
Here is my sixth part:
Group F: Argentina
Strengths: Argentina's strengths are really obvious. The team finished first in its South American qualification group and only lost two out of sixteen games. Argentina scored a whopping 35 goals and onlt conceeded 15. The team is also extremely strong in friendly games and teh last time they've lost one of these was in September 2012. Let's add that the squad will be extremely motivated to perform well in the country of their biggest opponent. Argentina will have no problems with the climate and take advantage from their enthusiastic fans who support them no matter what. Currently, Argentina's squad includes one of the best soccer players in the whole world with captain and striker Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) but his team mates are all experienced international professionals as well that are playing in the top pleagues of the world. Only three out of twenty-three players are actually playing in Argentina.
Weak points: Argentina is always mentioned when it comes to guess a potential World Cup winner but the team hasn't delivered in the past tournaments. They couldn't mess with other strong international squads in the past: the lost 0:4 against Germany in the quarter finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, 3:5 after penalties against Germany in the quarter finals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and 1:2 against the Netherlands in the quarter finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. Argentina always has to deal with elevated attentions from experts and fans and the squad has often broken under this pressure.
Expectations: This time Argentina should play a solid tournament and make it at least to the semi-finals. Their squad is on form and has grown together as a team and they are extremely motivated to play in Brazil this year. Argentina should become one of the best and most spectacular teams of the tournament.
Argentina's squad from June 7, 2014 against Slovenia (copyright: Marcos Brindicci / Reuters)
Group F: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Strengths: Bosnia and Herzegovina led its qualification group by winning eight out of ten games. What was even more exceptional were the thirty goals the squad scored by only conceeding six goals. The young team can count on several great players such as the consistent defender and captain Emir Spahic (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), experienced midfielders Senad Lulic (S.S. Lazio), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhou Renhe F.C.), Miralem Pjanic (A.S. Roma) and Sejad Salihovic (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim) as well as the attacking duo of Edin Dzeko (Manchester City F.C.) and Vedad Ibisevic (VfB Stuttgart). The team can play without any pressure and could play the role of the underdog that might surprise some of the bigger teams. The team won four out of its five friendly games in 2014 scored fifteen goals by conceeding only two goals.
Weak points: Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only new country in this year's World Cup. The team didn't qualify for any World Cup or European Championship so far and the squad is therefor completely unexperienced on this international level. Bosnia and Herzegovina has to face Argentina during their group stage and the team lost a friendly game against them with 0:2 in November 2013.
Expectations: Despite its lack of experience on the international level, Bosnia and Herzegovina's squad is stronger than ever and should easily make it to the play-off stage. I would even go so far and predict that the squad might be the tournament's biggest surprise. I bet that they will make it to the quarter or even semi finals this year.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's squad on June 3, 2014 against Mexico (copyright: Fansided)
Group F: Iran
Strengths: Iran has dominated the qualifying process for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, leaving teams such as South Korea and Uzbekistan behind. In the last two years, the Iranian squad has only lost four games. Iran can count on an experienced and international coaching staff with members coming from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Portugal and the United States of America.
Weak points: Iran has never survived the group stage in three FIFA World Cup appearances. In addition to this, only nine out of twenty-three players are playing out of their home country. Iran has a squad of no names and is definitely one of the most mysterious teams in the World Cup.
Expectations: The unknown Iranian players might surprise a couple of times but their squad is not strong and experienced enough to make it to the play-offs. If they survived the group stage this year, it would be more than just a surprise.
Iran's squad on June 8, 2014 against Trinidad and Tobago (copyright: AAP)
Group F: Nigeria
Strengths: Nigeria has always had a high number of technically skilled players. Their current squad includes a couple of internationally experienced players such as midfielders John Obi Mikel (Chelsea F.C.), Victor Moses (Liverpool F.C.) and Ogenyi Onazi (S.S. Lazio) as well as striker Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce S.K.). The team can also count on a couple of promising talents that might have their breakthrough very soon such as midfielder Ramon Azeez (UD Almeria) and strikers Uche Nwofor (VVV-Venlo) and Michael Uchebo (Cercle Brugge). The weather conditions and general style of play at the Brazilian World Cup could be an advantage for the light-footed Africans.
Weak points: Nigeria has never made it beyond the round of sixteen in four FIFA World Cup appearences so far. In the last two World Cups, Nigeria even got eliminated by finishing last in their groups. Nigeria also had a rather weak performance where they could beat Tahiti but lost against Spain and Uruguay. Nigeria has a squad full of talented players but they were missing discipline and strong team spirit several times in the past.
Expectations: Nigeria is not disciplined and strong enough to survive the group stage. They may be able to beat Iran but they won't have any chances against Argentina as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Nigeria's squad on June 7, 2014 against the United States of America (copyright: Footy Alert)« Expectations for the FIFA World Cup 2014 - part VIExpectations for the FIFA World Cup 2014 - part VII »