As the group stage comes to an end with two teams from each remaining in Brazil and the rest heading back home, we at Outside of the Boot have analysed each group, paying focus to four key aspects — the primary tactical system that was noticeably successful, the individual game changing performance that decided which way a result went, the most consistent and best young player across the three games (Talent Radar) with the players qualifying no more than 22-years-old and an XI of the best players from the group.
Largely expected to progress, Argentina didn’t disappoint with the end result but it wasn’t as easy as some expected. After an early lead against Bosnia they were pegged back while Iran kept them out for 90 minutes, Nigeria too almost got something out of their game. Argentina, for the first time ever, depended on and weren’t disappointed by Lionel Messi. Nigeria, although still considered a weak time, progressed past a seemingly superior Bosnia and a defensively impressive Iranian side.
Key Tactical System
Though this particular team haven’t progressed, falling short in their last game where they were required to depend on their attack, thus opening up their defence, Iran’s approach to the defensive side of the game was impressive. One may argue that they did what any ‘small’ side would do against inferior opposition, but many overlook the concentration and organisation that goes into carrying out a defensive system. Iran did well against Nigeria, keeping a clean-sheet while they so nearly got a famous result against Argentina with a similar approach.
Iran defended with an expected two banks of four with both defenders and midfielders protecting their goal. They obviously relied on their counter but the way in which the Asians handled the opposition, notably keeping Lionel Messi completely quiet for nearly the entire match was remarkable. They didn’t man mark the four-time Ballon D’Or winner but instead instructed the closest man to quickly cover the attacker, preventing him from receiving possession.
This particular performance wasn’t as spectacular as some of the others but Fernando Gago coming on at half-time in the first half against Bosnia certainly took the game away from the European side. With Argentina struggling to get any sort of momentum after the early own goal, Sabella decided to throw Fernando Gago into the fray and the midfielder provided that crucial defensive role in midfield. He covered for his attackers & retained possession as this significantly reduced the pressure being created by Susic’s men. Without Gago, Bosnia could have gone ahead and equalised, possibly taken the lead, and Group F could have looked a whole lot different.
This group severely lacked stand-out young players despite African side Nigeria possessing many. But to pick one from them would have to be Ahmed Musa, if for nothing else then just his brace scoring performance vs the Argentines. His two quick response goals after going behind certainly got people talking, despite the game ending in defeat. It must be said thought that he didn’t quite have the influence and impact in the other two fixtures. Ahmed Musa was named in our Talent Radar list of 25 Young Players to Watch at the World Cup. You can also read a detailed Scout Report on him right here.
Players in red are Talent Radar youngsters
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Co-founder and Chief Editor here. Obsessed with tactics. Keen follower of young players. Creator of #TalentRadar. Appeared in A Football Report's list of "Best in Football Writing 2012".
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