Argentina v Bosnia & Herzegovina - Expert v Expert Preview


Ahead of tonight's late match, Argentina expert Joel Richards  goes head to head with Bosnian journalist Sasa Ibrulj  

TEAM NEWS

Joel Richards on Argentina: Coach Alejandro Sabella has tried out several different teams in training this week, with Ezequiel Lavezzi in the starting eleven in place of Gonzalo Higuaín the most eye-catching change. But Sabella has also tried out a 5-3-2 that includes Maxi Rodriguez in place of Fernando Gago in midfield. That said, Sabella is expected to run with his preferred starting XI, with a 4-3-3 and the favoured attacking three of Leo Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Augero.

Sasa Ibrulj on Bosnia and Herzegovina: It seems that Safet Susic has a clear idea how his team will look – before today´s match he has only one doubt and that is Sejad Salihovic. He was supposed to start at left back, but got injured two days ago. Providing Salihovic recovers before the kick-off, Kolasinac will play in a pair with the skipper Emir Spahic as the center-back, while Mujdza is going right. Pjanic starts next to Besic, Misimovic is in front of them, while Izet Hajrovic and Senad Lulic come from by the flanks. Of course, Begovic on goal and Dzeko on the other side of pitch are sucure. The other option, in the case Salihovic is injured, Kolasinac will play left and Bicackic will take his place in CB. 

FORM GUIDE

Joel Richards on Argentina: Argentina qualified first in the South American group, which with no Brazil to compete against, arguably they should well have done. But for 2010 under Diego Maradona the abliceleste were only the fourth best team in qualifying. Sabella has brought purpose and clarity to the team. Two easy wins against Slovenia (2-0) and Trinidad and Tobago (3-0) give little bearing on how the team will perform at the World Cup, but did allow Sabella to try out alternatives ahead of the opening game in a tournament Argentina are expected to reach, as a minimum, the last four.

Sasa Ibrulj on Bosnia and Herzegovina: A lot of things changed in eight months since Vedad Ibisevic scored that decisive goal in Lithuania, to secure Bosnians their debut at the major tournament. For years Susic was deploying 4-4-2 system, that worked in the qualifiers, but after two defeats (and terrible performances) in friendlies against Argentina and Egypt, he decided to switch to 4-2-3-1. The two matches that Bosnia played since - Ivory Coast and Mexico - they looked much more balanced and better organized, especially at the back. Edin Dzeko scored twice against Ivorians and Bosnians hope he´ll replicate his club form at the World Cup.

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY:

Alejandro Sabella on Argentina: "We have tried to look after our injured players and ensure they're ready. Right now it’s a mixture of anxiety and nerves."

Safet Susic on Bosnia and Herzegovina: ”We´ll not allow Argentina a walk in park. We know that they are one of the best teams in the world, but we believe in ourselves. This is the biggest challenge so far and we will be very motivated to bring people back home joy. We have a team good enough to win this.”

KEY MAN

Joel Richards on Argentina: No surprises from me: it's Leo Messi. This Argentina team is built around Messi, both on the pitch and to a lesser extent the squad of players that is called up as well. With the national side he likes to drop deeper than with Barcelona, but having not scored a single goal in South Africa 2010, he now averages nearly a goal every game for Argentina under Sabella.

Sasa Ibrulj on Bosnia and Herzegovina: Obviously, Argentina will look to dominate and Bosnia will have to worry about how to defend against one of the best attacking lines in the world. However, this team, with creative force in Miralem Pjanic (pictured above) and Zvjezdan Misimovic is capable of creating chances against any team in the world. Consequently, this means that top scorer Edin Dzeko will have to be more efficient than ever, converting rare chances that will come. 

BEST BET:

Joel Richards: Sergio Aguero to score the game’s first goal at 4.75. The Manchester City striker is a vital part of attack, strong pre-tournament candidate for top scorer and links up well with Messi. Along with Higuain, Aguero spearheads the Argentina attack, and feeds off service from his fellow strike partner, Messi and also the width brought by Angel Di Maria.

Sasa Ibrulj:  Even though the Argentinians have not conceded in their last five matches, including friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina back in November, their defence has the potential to be shaky. Knowing the attacking prowess that Bosnia now have, I like the 2.00 odds on both teams to score. If you want to be more hazardous, Galatasaray´s right wing Izet Hajrovic is hungry for matches and he was very good in last two friendlies, scoring the winner against Mexico. He is on 8.50 to score at any time and that sounds good to try.

SCORE PREDICTION: 

Joel Richards: Argentina 3-1 Bosnia at odds of 11.50

Sasa Ibru: Argentina 1-1 Bosnia at odds of 9.00 

Bet on Group F now.