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Saturday, June 12, 2010

ARGENTINA vs NIGERIA >>> Match Previews

Stern Nigerian Test For Messi & Co.
The talent in the Argentina squad is so vast that Diego Maradona has left out two of Inter Milan's Champions League-winning stars - Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti - and the two-goal hero of the final, Diego Milito, may be his sixth-choice forward.

Nonetheless, the coach's selections and tactics have been so erratic that a team that could have been the overall favourite is considered to have little hope of going beyond the quarter-finals. That may be unfair, and the negative press could prove a motivating factor, but the fact remains that few believe they can compete with the very best this summer.

Nigeria's preparations have been no less hectic. The Nigerian federation finally decided to dismiss Shaibu Amodu after the African Nations Cup and appointed former Sweden boss Lars Lagerback in February. Lagerback is a good and experienced coach, but the lack of preparation time has severely damaged his hopes of getting it right in South Africa.

Argentina player in focus: Lionel Messi. While Messi has often struggled to find his best form under Diego Maradona, it is welcome news that the coach is planning to adopt a 4-3-3 formation with the Barcelona star featuring alongside Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez. The rumours are that Messi will be given a free role and allowed to drift behind his fellow attackers, which could allow him to flourish on the world stage.

Nigeria player in focus: Obafemi Martins. While Nigeria are not short of attacking talent, Martins has the best goals-to-games ratio for the Super Eagles with 17 goals in 31 appearances. The Wolfsburg man scored the goal that took Nigeria to the tournament and, having played in Serie A and the Premier League before his stint in Germany, he is used to coming up against the very best.

Key battle: Javier Mascherano v Haruna Lukman
Haruna a 19-year-old who plays his club football for Monaco, faces the task of replacing John Obi Mikel in the Nigeria midfield. Mikel plays a far more creative role for his national side than at Chelsea, so his replacement will need to be on top form to get the better of one of the game's greatest defensive midfielders and supply the attackers.

Trivia: Diego Maradona is the father-in-law of Argentina striker Sergio Aguero.

Stats: Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero were Argentina's leading scorers in qualification with four goals apiece. Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez and Martin Palermo each scored one.

ZLBT Match Analysis & Predictions
Argentina remain a difficult team to predict, given their wretched performances in qualifying and their wealth of talent available. Nonetheless, France reached the final four years ago despite difficulties with their coach and Maradona's men could surprise a few people in South Africa. Lagerback has had little time to work with his squad since taking over in February and, with John Obi Mikel ruled out through injury, Argentina should come out with a win.
For all his greatness as a player, Maradona's coaching talent is questionable. Messi seldom score for his country under Maradona's tactical acumen.
On the other hand, the Nigerians are never an easy tean to beat. Can anyone remember when was the last time Nigeria lose a match?
They can be beaten but not whacked.
High hopes are placed for an African nation to reach the semi-final.
Can you opine a better candidate than Nigeria?

Argentina 2 - 1 Nigeria

Take Nigeria +1 1/4
Take OVER 2 3/4 (Total Goals) small fun bet

Select from insurace bet Argentina exact score
1 - 0 (small fun bet)
2 - 0 (small fun bet}
2 - 1 {small fun bet}
3 - 1 (small fun bet)
(Odds as per below).

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