The Cup Running Over

June 11, 2010 7:35 PM

Group B Preview: Nigeria v. Argentina

Which Argentina will show up? On paper, Maradona's team should waltz away with three points from this match, but as we saw throughout qualification, has a habit of self-sabotaging. Rather than trying to cram all its attacking options into the starting line up, expect Argentina to start with a conservative formation, with only Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi starting in attack. They should dominate possession, and will be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a typically physical Nigeria side. Barring a real case of self-implosion, Argentina should feel fairly comfortable throughout the match.

taye_taiwo_pr.jpgNigeria's Taye Taiwo has a tough job: Shadowing Lionel Messi

Nigeria will be struggling to cope with the loss of their playmaker, Jon Obi Mikel, who was recently ruled out of the tournament through injury (he played a much more forward role for Nigeria than he does at his club, Chelsea). Expect little creativity in Argentina's half. The key man to watch for the Super Eagles will be Taye Taiwo, arguably the best left-back outside of England or Spain, who will have the difficult task of man marking the slippery Messi, and through his free-kicks will likely be responsible for the few chances Nigeria create. A lot of pressure is on the Marseille man.

Steven and Harrison Stark are the co-authors of the recently published World Cup 2010: The Indispensable Guide to Soccer and Geopolitics. They are analyzing the World Cup for Real Clear Sports

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