What: 2010 FIFA World Cup
Who: Argentina vs Nigeria (Group B)
When: Saturday 12th June, 2010, at 15:00 UK Time
Where: Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa

Let the Games Begin

Argentina might have qualified to the 2010 World Cup with a lot of effort – and perseverance – but they know that they will need to raise their game should they have any realistic chance of raising the trophy. With a talented squad led by the world’s best player Lionel Messi, the South Americans certainly have what it takes to cope on the big stage.

After qualifying, the Biancoceleste knew very well that the world still hasn’t seen their best under Diego Maradona and as such, came up with a vital win against Germany, as well as thrashings of Haiti and Canada in a series of friendlies.

One question mark that is still humming over Maradona his exclusion of Internazionale duo Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso from his travelling squad, as both enjoyed a fantastic treble-winning season with their club. It remains to be seen whether “El Diego” was correct in his choice.

Tough Times Ahead

It is true that Nigeria where drawn in one of the competition’s tougher groups: Alongside heavyweights Argentina, Park Ji-Sung’s South Korea and Euro 2004 surprise winners Greece, Nigeria will have to play some of their best football should they want to work wonders and qualify for the next round.

Besides captain and talisman Nwankwo Kanu, coach Lars Lagerback has mostly chosen a young squad for the tournament, with nearly all players below the age of 30. However, this could very well come back to haunt the Swede as some of these players are relatively inexperienced – Sochaux’s Ideye Brown for example holds no official caps entering this World Cup.

Nigeria’s form in this contest could largely reside on their maiden fixture with Argentina. The Super Eagles know very well that they won’t be given any space to maneuver by the superior Argentineans, and as such, will have to take the few chances that they get.


Recent form

Germany 0-1 Argentina (03/03; Friendly)
Argentina 4-0 Haiti (05/05; Friendly)
Argentina 5-0 Canada (24/05; Friendly)

Nigeria 0-0 Saudi Arabia (25/05; Friendly)
Nigeria 1-1 Columbia (30/05; Friendly)
Nigeria 3-1 North Korea (06/06; Friendly)

Players to watch

Argentina – Lionel Messi: All Messi is missing at the moment is reproducing his club performances at country level. The Barcelona megastar has long been criticised for under-achieving when on international duty, and now will be the time to prove his critics wrong.

Nigeria – Obafemi Martins: The pacey forward could utilise his speed in order to prevail over the slow defence of Walter Samuel and Martin Demichelis. When hitting top gear, few footballers can catch up with the former Internazionale star.

Match prediction

Argentina will have to be careful when facing the fast African side, especially at the back. Any lapses could see them throw away an early unexpected lead, but the 1986 world champions will fancy their chances and should come away with a clean 3-0 win.

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