World Cup Special #6: GROUP F

by Ray_North on May 31, 2014

imagesGroup F – or as I call it Groupos Los Politicos Yes, the group for political types – it’s got Bosnia, well there was a war there not so long ago, Nigeria, there’s always something tasty going on there, Iran, well, need I say more and Argentina, who, er, had the Colonels thirty odd years ago. Yes, this is the group where if I watch one of the matches with Jackie South, he’ll tell me who we should be supporting and why – which is fine, he’s been doing it for years (you can’t support Burton Albion in this FA Cup third round replay. Why? Because they’ve just elected a Tory in the North Ward Seat of their Council).

I digress – let’s get back to the football.

Group F and let’s start with one of my personal favourites for the whole thing – Ar-gen-tina. I’ve always liked the Argies, they know their football, they’re always strong, always packed with wonderfully talented players and are often capable of doing something monumentally silly. This year, the job of minimising the silly will be down to the Alejandro Sabella, who once played with Sheffield United – now you may not know this, but Sheffield were also offered a very young Diego Maradona when they signed Sabella back in 1978 – they got that wrong! Sabella knows what he’s doing though and his problem will be keeping some amazing players happy – I mean how does anyone fit, Aguerro, Messi, Levazzi and Huguain into the same team? Answer, you don’t. In midfield, Mascherano will sit, Maxi Rodriguez will run and Di Maria will pass; whilst any defence that contains Zabaletta and Dimichelis is going to be hard to break down. Argentina will definitely progress and, my hunch is that as this team gathers momentum and starts to sniff the possibility of a match in the later stages against Brazil – they may become a true force in the competition.images-1

As for players to watch – take your pick, but, I suggest have a little look at this young fella called Lionel Messi from Barca, I’ve heard he’s quite good.

Bosnia and Herzegovina continue a Man City theme with Edin Dzeko, who in many ways was responsible for their success last season with his unerring ability to come off the bench and get a goal. He won’t be on the bench for the Bosnians however, he’ll be leading the line as their best player. This will be Bosnia’s first World Cup and I for one, hope that they do well. And the spine of the team suggests that they won’t let anyone down – their keeper Begovic is class, in the centre of defence Saphic is strong and mobile, whilst any midfield with Balkan players in it, is going to know how to pass and keep a ball.

UnknownThere should be some good games in this group and in particular the match between Nigeria and Bosnia could be a cracker – I expect the Bosnians to prevail.

Player to watch – Zvedzan Misimovic is a classic ‘Yugoslav’ ball player, experienced, he will be relishing this chance to play, at last, in a world cup.

Iran will relishing their chance on the biggest stage as well. And rumour has it that they are sending their best ever squad to a world cup. Having qualified by the skin of their teeth though, I’m not sure that those rumours are credible. The manager is the former Man United Number 2 Carlos Quiroz, which should mean that they are well drilled, and in Standard Liege’s Reza Ghoochannejhad they have a player who knows how to score goals. I’m told that their best player is Javad Nekounam – who has over 130 caps and is a tireless worker and ball winner. They also have the occasionally interesting Dejagah of Fulham who could be one of those players who thrive in the World Cup.images-2

Player to watch – Haghighi is their keeper, bound to be bonkers.

Nigeria have a strong record in the World Cup having qualified more often than any other African Nation, but, alas, only getting out of the group stage in 1994 and 1998 – something they haven’t managed since. And they will be desperate to do it this time. Their manager is the Nigerian Stephen Keshi who won the African Cup of Nations as a player and a coach and knows his players. And recent results have been good – African Champions in 2013, no mean feat, and qualifying with a bit to spare for the Brazil World Cup.

Their squad is experienced and strong with a lot of international and Champions League Experience – the likes of Joseph Yobo, John Obi Mikel and Peter Odemwingie aren’t going to be scared of any Bosnians or Argentinians, but, I fear that a team made out of players who’ve nearly made it in the Premier League, may, do exactly that, nearly make it in the World Cup.

Victor Moses is a willing runner, but, as he showed at Anfield last season, sometimes lacks the composure when under pressure, whilst Shola Ameobi and Victor Obinna are massive strong forwards, but may wilt when marked closely.

Unknown-1Player to watch is the 21 year old midfielder Ogenyi Onazi who is tough and uncompromising.

My prediction for Groupos Los Politicos
1. Argentina
2. Bosnia
3. Iran
4. Nigeria

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