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World Cup 2014: Group F Preview

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Rich Schultz

Teams: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Liverpool Players: None

Group F is eerily similar to Group E. It includes one team that's an international football powerhouse, a strong up and comer, and two teams that seem sure to miss the knockout round. It's virtually a two horse race between Argentina and Bosnia, with Argentina being the clear favorites to come out on top of the group. This appears to be the most cut and dry group in this World Cup.

Argentina have recently built up a reputation for being underwhelming in international tournaments. Do you think that trend will continue, or will they become a true contender?

This is tough. With the roster Argentina have, you'd expect them to always be a contender. Their attack force is the most talented in the world, and nobody else even comes close. Plus, their defense can certainly hold their own. However, their exit in South Africa was pretty spectacular. They were absolutely trounced by Germany, and then they followed it up with a very poor performance in the Copa America the following summer. I usually cheer for Argentina, but I won't believe they are contenders until I actually see it. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I expect they'll underwhelm once again. (blunatic)

This is usually because they rely too much on Messi, and my personal opinion why he doesn't perform as well with his country as he does with Barca is because he doesn't have Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. But with Angel Di Maria having a great season at Madrid, and Gonzalo Higuain having a decent season at Napoli, maybe he has the back up (not necessarily "service" because he can make chances himself, but Argentina expect him to do that. That's their downfall). (JAceKopite16)

It comes down to whether this team can play as a cohesive unit and whether they can defend respectably, and I'm not confident that they can check either of those boxes. I think Argentina once again gets trounced by a more complete, tactically disciplined team in the Quarterfinals. (Dan)

Building off the first question, Lionel Messi hasn't performed well with Argentina in their last two tournaments. Will Messi finally play like the player we all know he is this time around?

I certainly hope so. It's always hard to watch a world class player struggle with their national team on the world's biggest stage. He was hardly a star in South Africa, and he was nothing short of dreadful in the last Copa America. If Messi can play like Messi, Argentina's chances of making a deep run greatly improve. Argentina without an in-form Messi are a formidable opponent, but Argentina with an in-form Messi will have defenses shaking in their boots. (blunatic)

Like I said in my last answer, they rely too much on him. That may change this time and give him more freedom, which is a good thing for him. (JAceKopite16)

He'll play well because he's one of the world's best, but it won't be enough to take Argentina all the way. (Dan)

This is the first World Cup for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but their strong performance in UEFA qualifying got them here in convincing fashion. How far do you think this team can go?

Bosnia and Herzegovina appear to be in the same place Switzerland were in 4 years ago. I obviously think they'll make it out of the group, and while they may have a chance to make the quarters, I think it's much more likely they lose in the Round of 16. More than anything, I think this will be valuable World Cup experience for these guys. A solid performance this year would be very helpful for their continued development. (blunatic)

They have some decent players. I expect they'll get out of the group. Nigeria have a good side, but they've never been able to contend with the European teams. I see a last 16 place. (JAceKopite16)

There's a few top players on this team, most notably Miralem Pjanic, but I don't know that they have the ability to be a special team in the way that Switzerland can because they're an older unit than the Swiss. Nonetheless, they should advance out of the group unless Victor Moses goes off for Nigeria or something. (Dan)

Which player's performance will have the biggest influence on the outcome of this group?

I expect Angel di Maria to be huge for Argentina. He was phenomenal for Real Madrid in the Champion's League final, and I think he'll keep on rolling in Brazil. (blunatic)

Angel's big for Argentina like blu said. He was probably even better than Bale this season at Madrid, (even better, in my opinion, than Messi at Barca). He's been in the form of his life all season and might take a bit of the weight off Messi's shoulders and be their driving force. (JAceKopite16)

Edin Dzeko needs to not miss so many easy chances like he does for Manchester City, because opportunities will be less frequent with Bosnia and Herzegovina. He's capable of getting hot though, and if he does, he'll pose major matchup problems for opposing defenses. (Dan)

Which Group F matchup excites you the most?

It has to be Argentina v. Bosnia. They are the 2 best teams by far, and because it's the first match of this group, the winner will be in the driver's seat for 1st. (blunatic)

I'm excited to see how Argentina do as a whole. They could have one great game and then fall off for the rest of the group. So any game involving them. (JAceKopite16)

This group doesn't excite me all that much in all honesty, but I'll go with Argentina v. Iran in case the upset of the tournament goes down. (Dan)

Reveal your bias! Which team in this group are you pulling for?

The first soccer video game I ever played was Winning Eleven 7, and Argentina was my favorite team to use. I've cheered for them ever since. Plus, even though I was critical of him earlier, Messi is one of my favorite players to watch and I'd really like to see him do well. Not to mention Argentina's home kit is the best in international soccer. I'll be wearing my Messi Argentina jersey a lot over the next month. (blunatic)

Blu's going on a big thing about Messi, but I love di Maria. So I want him to do well. I had an Argentina training kit when I was a kid, so I always tend to have a soft spot for them.  (JAceKopite16)

I don't have a strong opinion about any of these teams, so I'm just hoping Nigeria do well enough to make the group interesting. (Dan)