Argentina vs. Iran Experts Pick, Predicted Lineup, Injury Report & Tactics – World Cup 2014
By Lou Ramon Aguila | June 21, 2014 12:59 PM EST
Argentina will try to punch their spot into the knockout stages, as they take on a pesky Iranian squad on Saturday (17:00 Brazil/2:00 Sydney) at Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte in Brazil.
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring a goal against Bosnia during their 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro June 15, 2014.
What's at Stake
*Argentina's win on Saturday will seal their place into the round-of-16. The Argentines carved out a 2-1 victory over Bosnia and Herzogovina, a game where Lionel Messi scored a wonderful bending goal despite struggling to be in his element in the early going.
*Iran needs a victory to stay alive in the tourney after settling to a scoreless tussle with Nigeria. Better than expected, the Iranian proved to be tough on the defensive end, but the presence of Argentina's dynamic striking force will certainly give them a stern test.
"Lionel Messi was the inspiration behind Argentina's win over Bosnia and Herzegovina but it is hard to see Iran cause as many problems for one of the tournament favourites, even though they got a draw from their opening game, against Nigeria," according to John Ley of the Telegraph.
Argentina: midfielder Fernando Gago is still nursing his left knee injury but could come out off the bench for Maxi Rodriguez in the match.
Argentina (Possible, 4-3-3): Romero; Zabaleta, Garay, Fernández, Rojo; Rodríguez, Mascherano, María; Messi, Higuaín, Agüero.
Iran (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Haghigi; Montazeri, Hosseini, Sadeqi, Pooladi; Nekounam, Teymourian; Heydari, Hajsafi, Dejagah; Ghoochanneijhad.
"Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella started off against Bosnia last time out in a 3-5-2 formation but, for the second-half he switched to 4-3-3 and is likely to start with that line-up. Maxi Rodríguez could come into midfield, ahead of Fernando Gago."
"Iran, meanwhile, began their 2014 World Cup campaign with a 0-0 draw against Nigeria are are likely to be unchanged against Argentina.
Telegraph's analyst John Ley is predicting a 4-0 blowout win for Argentina, and Messi and Gonzalo Higuain could be the front act. Mark Lawrenson of BBC also believed Argentina will take an easy win on Saturday.
"We saw in their opening game against Nigeria that Iran are extremely well organised under Carlos Queiroz. That won't be enough against Argentina, though.
Argentina struggled to get going in the first half against Bosnia-Hercegovina but I would put that down to nerves.
Lionel Messi was not having a good day at the office but, in the second half, he found a bit of a space and scored a wonder goal. Even when he is not playing well, he has the ability to do that, but Argentina need him to do it more often," according to Lawrenson.
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