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Messi-dona magic: Argentina squeezes past resolute Iran

Two games and two wins for Argentina with two spectacular goals from its captain and talisman Lionel Messi. So what’s the problem?

Photo: Argentina forward and captain Lionel Messi (centre) curls the ball around his warden for the winner against Iran.    (Copyright AFP 2014/Pedro Ugarte)
Photo: Argentina forward and captain Lionel Messi (centre) curls the ball around his warden for the winner against Iran.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Pedro Ugarte)

It was a close shave again for starters. Iran offered Argentina’s attackers as much as courtesy as they might normally extend to UN nuclear weapon inspectors.

Elsewhere in Group G, Germany and Ghana played to a pulsating 2-2 draw in which Miroslav Klose grabbed a personal milestone by matching Brazil legend Ronaldo’s 15 World Cup goals.

At the final whistle, the two teams stood bloody and breathless; quite literally in the case of Germany’s Thomas Müller and Ghana’s John Boye. Phew!

The German craftsmanship of Mario Götze and Mesut Özil, who was called “Nemo” at Real Madrid for his bulging eyes, versus the flair and attacking intent of André Ayew and Asamoah Gyan.

Germany has one foot in the next round already while Ghana must hope for results to go its way coupled with a win against Portugal. The United States faces Portugal tomorrow and, if Cristiano Ronaldo inspires his men to triumph, all four teams will have a chance of advancing in the final round of matches.

Photo: Looking for "Nemo?" German midfield star Mesut Ozil has made a fine start to the 2014 World Cup.
Photo: Looking for “Nemo?”
German midfield star Mesut Ozil has made a fine start to the 2014 World Cup.

Nigeria made a leap towards advancing too with a 1-0 win over Bosnia in another entertaining fixture.

Peter Odemwingie grabbed the winner in the 29th minute after terrific wing play from Emmanuel Emenike. While Bosnian poacher Eden Dzeko, who had a first half strike incorrectly ruled out for offside, had a late effort pushed on to the post by talented Nigerian custodian Vincent Enyeama.

Iran still has a chance to advance too thanks to an opening draw against Nigeria. But Carlos Quieroz, Iran’s Portugal-born coach and a former number two at Manchester United, had only resistance on his mind as his men lined up in a 7-3-0 formation today, which proved that Jose Mourinho is not the only pragmatist in Portugal.

A video clip suggested that Iran captain Javad Nekounam took advantage of the captains’ exchange of tokens to make an early plea for Messi’s jersey—a full 90 minutes before the final whistle. If Trinidad and Tobago’ Ataullah Guerra jovial bow to Messi was criticised for offering too much respect to an opponent; well, what do you call using the armband to sneak ahead of the queue in the souvenir stakes?

Still , once the opening whistle blew, the effort from the Iranian team was commendable. And the lively Ashkan Dejagah, the Fulham attacker who represented Germany at youth level, and goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi did particularly well.

To suggest Quieroz produced a tactical master class or that Iran was brilliant would be pushing it, though. Iran was forced to defend in numbers against a superior team but, despite how close Quieroz’s men came to a famous point and their occasional offensive threat, they were, statistically, poor on the ball.

Iran attempted 132 passes today—a record low for the 2014 World Cup—at an accuracy rate of 66 percent. Greece was almost as woeful in a goalless draw against Japan as the European team completed 65 percent of its 178 passes.

But then Honduras is third worse with a far healthier 268 passes in a 4-0 defeat to France at a 79 percent completion rate. And even Bosnia, who also defended doggedly against Argentina, was much more productive on the ball with 372 passes and an 85 percent accuracy rate.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain and legend Dwight Yorke (bottom) salutes the "Soca Warriors" fans at the 2006 Germany World Cup. (Copyright AFP 2014/Patrik Stollarz)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain and legend Dwight Yorke (bottom) salutes the “Soca Warriors” fans at the 2006 Germany World Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Patrik Stollarz)

Or, to give it a local twang, even though the “Soca Warriors” were criticised by some of their own fans for lacking attacking ambition and know-how at Germany 2006; Trinidad and Tobago still managed 41 percent possession against Sweden, 38 percent against England and 47 percent against Paraguay.

Iran mustered 23 percent today.

Not all the statistics were kind to Argentina either. The South American juggernaut managed just three shots on target during the 90 minutes and created only two clear opportunities. And, against Bosnia in the Group F opener, “La Albiceleste” managed two shots on target and conjured up only one clear scoring chance.

Fans who tuned in to see a Ferrari tear up the racetrack might have felt they were watching a Cortina instead.

But if the likes of Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuain have looked as menacing as television presenter Sammy Jo with a pillow—disclaimer: Mr Live Wire has never seen Sammy with a pillow or any other bedroom accessories—then Messi has been threatening enough for the lot of them.

And, as against Bosnia, Messi-dona followed a dip of the shoulder with a superbly precise swing of the left foot. Boom!

You wanted the “Barcelona Messi?” Well, he is here.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra (centre) knows a great player when he sees one; and he paid a special tribute to Argentina captain Lionel Messi here. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra (centre) knows a great player when he sees one; and he paid a special tribute to Argentina captain Lionel Messi here.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

And allyuh still vex?!

 

Today’s World Cup action

Group F

Argentina 1 (Lionel Messi 91), Iran 0

Nigeria 1 (Peter Odemwingie 29), Bosnia and Herzegovina 0

Group G

Germany 2 (Mario Götze 51, Miroslav Klose 71), Ghana 2 (André Ayew 54, Asamoah Gyan 63)

 

Star of the Day

Thirty-six-year-old Germany striker Miroslav Klose scored five times in 2002 and 2006 and got four goals in 2010. And his first touch of the 2014 World Cup was goal number 15, which puts him alongside Brazil legend Ronaldo as the highest scorer in the history of the competition.

His cartwheeled reactions to his goals cannot hold a candle to Kenwyne Jones’ somersaults; but then Klose does his celebrations more often.

Photo: Germany striker Miroslav Klose celebrated his 15th World Cup goal today, which is a joint record for the competition.
Photo: Germany striker Miroslav Klose celebrated his 15th World Cup goal today, which is a joint record for the competition.

Villain of the Day

At this rate, Argentina forward Sergio Agüero might as well wear pajamas for his next outing. Wake up “Kun,” Argentina has played two matches already!

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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63 comments

  1. Iran is ranked 37 places below Argentina and an “11 ½” man Argentina catch their nen-nen to beat them.
    Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 66 places below Argentina and only got exploited 3 goals from what is supposed to be an in camp well-greased world top five contender for the world cup.
    I am an Argentina fan. I look at the real super classicos; love millionarios, respect boca, estudiantes. I have my Argentina jerseys. Messi is really good but not great yet. He plays one league. He is no Diego Maradonna (el Pibe de oro), he is no Ariel Ortega (el Burrito), he is no Claudio Caniggia (el Hijo del viento), and he is no Gabriel Batistuta (Battigol).
    His contribution to his team is not yet equal to Franco Baresi, Paulo Maldini, Lothar Matthaus, or even the Tripod. I can go as far to say that he is no Man of the Match Dwight Yorke in WC 2006 or then Russell Latapy at age 38, Ryan Giggs at 40, Pirlo at 35 in 2014.
    Carlos Valderama was a magician. Even Gianluigi Buffon was a magician. Pele. Maybe Zidane in moments. I can go on and on. It would be magic though if Argentina wins this World Cup. I maintain that Trinidad and Tobago with some adjustments could beat this Argentina side.
    Messi’s shot was not magic. A keeper dives with two hands when he can comfortably push the ball. Keeper dives with one hand to get extra leverage. Keeper was not positioned properly to save a routine Barca type go right side cut to the left and shoot Messi goal. Nevertheless a well taken goal. How great would you consider yourself to score perhaps a run of the mill goal against a forty something ranked team. The lad probably wants to play football support his family and doesn’t even study greatness.

  2. If Argentina get 2 or 3 goals then its because they are playing a very offensive minded team. Which also means that they will have less at the back and that also means that messi and the rest gets more space to play resulting in you getting g goals also. Any team that plays the Argentines open will see a completely different Argentina . and I’m not an Argentina supporter as Lasana Liburd knows lol. We have been on opposite sides since 14 yes old..haha….but my point is that it doesn’t matter how great you are ,when you face a 10 man wall in front the penalty box there’s not much you can do.

  3. Timmy, Iran played a really good game big respect to them I wish it was a tie.

  4. Agreed. If any other player scores Messi-style goals once every other month every coach and team would be satisfied and happy. But Lionel. Nah one goal a game? What a slacker:)

  5. It’s Messi’s own fault. He scores his golazos with so much regularity that it starts to feel like tap-ins. So people taking his genius for granted now.

  6. Lasana – you sound like Brian Springer, patron saint of the lost cause of T&T football. I don’t share your view on the Whitley Gago battle but I am sure Leo would have had a plan.

  7. And watching the highlights again and I think Iran did enough to deserve something from this game. Poor finishing let them down. For sure Argentina have to improve to go deep into the tournament

  8. I know right! If Messi turn a keg of vat19 white to Johnny walker black, men go say why it wasn’t Johnny blue!

  9. lol don’t worry ~ just now you will see the hater’s bawling Neymar name as the greatest ever~~ just to diminish messi status!! they will do anything just not to Accept how great Messi is~~ and when He win the World cup~ they will say he has to lead his Country and win more dan one WC etc etc

  10. Meanwhile since the Messi hate all over the social media thing nah, pick any side that playing football on earth in 2014 A.D. that Messi can’t start on. I holding on. Them really good yes:)

  11. I like the Maradona comparison. Imagine to be in the same conversation. I think I am the biggest Diego fan ever. But right now is Messi on the big stage. Let him do he thing nah! And if he only second best to the ole Diego then we taking that too:)

  12. They are going to have a fight on their hands with Nigeria to see who tops the group to go forward to meet runner up of group E – either the Swiss or Ecuador – provided that France beat Ecuador

  13. Ian R Briggs, I wanna how see how that speed gun rates these Nigerian attackers. Because this is an exhibition of speed!

  14. And fair point Kendall. Owen and Peter Crouch certainly don’t stack up well next to Messi and Aguero. Lol.
    I suppose Beenhakker would have tried to win the midfield battle again and might have a better chance. I think Aurtis Whitley would handle Gago any day of the week.

  15. And “Messi don’t score with Argentina”

  16. hmmm~~ even the great Gabriel Batistuta~~ ,messi passing~~ and passing Batistuta aint no easy doing when that man was ah goal maniac

  17. Messi became today the 2nd Argentine player ever to reach 40 goals with the national team, after Batistuta

  18. Argentina… 10 fellas waiting on Messi to score a goal!

  19. No argument about Iran but you can’t be seriously comparing England in 2006 as offering a challenge equal to that of the current Argentine squad.

  20. Messi has been effectively silenced in a lot of games in recent times. Iran and Bosnia simply not good enough to execute that game plan. And as open as Germany played today, I seriously doubt they would do that against Argentina.

    I do agree that Argentina needs Aguero and Di Maria to lift their game to win this tournament. Similarly, Brasil need more than Neymar but our options are more limited by far.

  21. It would have been a different game. Remember England then had Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard and Joe Cole who were all in their prime.
    So England’s midfield was probably superior to Argentina’s.
    I still feel Iran was totally reactive and it is still possible to defend in a more proactive way.

  22. Lasana – I wasn’t suggesting that Leo managed the squad by guess. I was merely acknowledging that those teams are nowhere as potent in attack as Argentina so the possession stats aren’t comparable. I have great respect for what he did and how he made us compact.

  23. If Aguero and Higuain don’t get it together, Argentina cannot win the tournament. Argentina has to play its best team against Nigeria and hope that they gel.

  24. I agree Iran and Bosnia were not going to move on also round of 16 would see some more attacking opponents.
    As you well know there is not much room to be on a drought in the cup. The last thing a team with out if form strikers want is to meet an inform attack in the knock out satage.
    Messi dug deep, he is now 2 nil up on Ronaldo

  25. Beenhakker brought on Cornell Glen to attack Sweden. He started Kenwyne Jones to overpower Ashley Cole on that flank and give us something extra defending and attacking set pieces.
    The Warriors didn’t play by guess even though we didn’t have enough to really sting our opponents.

  26. I look at it this way Davis Melville. Messi and Aguero at their best around your penalty area. If you invite them there, they will always score eventually. That isn’t luck.
    When Aguero improves, Argentina will be twice as deadly in that area.
    If other teams want to park the bus, then feel free. I hope every single team does it.
    But it is the team that decides to flood the midfield area and take on our full backs that will worry me.
    Iran and Bosnia were never going to win.

  27. They played better than well…Ghana actually earned the right to cut Germany ass quite frankly….. but you also have to understand game situation… and that is where experience comes in…. germany gave a little too much space because they wanted a win…. ghana exploited the space and went up…. coach needed to reign in his players clog up the middle and play counter attack football… it didnt have to be pretty… just see the game home…. body language told you they had absolutely no fear of germany… but its that over confidence IMO did them in…..

  28. I thought Ghana played damn well. That is a strong German team in my book. It just shows what can be gained sometimes by springing your own tactical surprise rather than camping out and waiting for the bullet.

  29. Going on the two matches so far can you see Argentina coming back from a 2 or 3 goal deficit?

  30. Geeze de report was going SO good…THEN yuh had to bring in Jose Mourihno into the discussion…surprised you didn’t make the PORTUGESE connection too…Jose-hater! 🙂

  31. None of those Argentines could outrun Cyd Gray or Carlos Edwards. So we would probably defend a bit higher.
    I don’t mind teams continuing to play like that one bit Kendall Tull. Because Messi will keep scoring his “lucky” goals.
    Allow players of the calibre of Messi the ball around your area and they will always poison you eventually. Iran is lucky that Aguero and Higuain are not match fit yet.

  32. You know the saying about managing a team being like having a small blanket on a cold night Kendall?
    If another team leaves an extra player up, it means one less in defence.
    And I don’t think Beenhakker would have played so deep against Argentina either. We wouldn’t need to.

  33. Lasana – none of the sides we faced were anywhere as close to being as talented a squad as Argentina though. Not so sure we would fare that well against them in a competitive fixture (friendlies don’t count).

  34. What it does show is that it is possible to shut down Argentina’s attack. A stronger opponent will be able to do so and be more effective in the counter. The same holds true for Brasil.

  35. Lack of composure kill Ghana today…. at no time in that game did Ghana feel that germany was better than them…..

  36. against who? that german side will struggle against any team with real pace……

  37. so true eh Uncle earl~ they really bring it ~~ this match~~~~ one thing i saw is they brought out some real fight and venom from Germany jed~~

  38. Germany ain’t the Germany of 2010. They supposed to win 4-0

  39. actually is not the passing…they are just as tecnically skilled as the germans….. is know your role as a player on the pitch and when to pay respect….. you are up 2/1 against germany is not the time to get cocky…. …….it is the same thing that did in Iran in the 1st game…. and in both instances it cost them goals…you are 0/0 with argentina in the 90 is not time to think you could win the game…. BIG sides don’t stop playing because either they not having a good game or the over matched in some positions….. Argentina know when in doubt find Messi; Germany know when we in trouble bring on Klose…. yuh score, pack it in and hit on the counter… that’s how you score 5 (netherlands and France) and not draw 2/2 or lose 1/0 in the 91st…..

  40. I hv quite a few teams in this WC and I am absolutely loving Ghana

  41. David yes it was it was really exciting and great game but if the African players were to mastered their passing like meh German players they will score plenty more goals and that is what I always emphasize with my players, the passing has to be on like boil corn man. LOL

  42. I agree the referees always give the African players a very hard time, hence the reason they loose their kool when they don’t receive the equal treatment

  43. Mango, I thought that card was very harsh against Muntari.

  44. That African player to doh doh head look where you gave away a free kick eh and now he has to miss the next game steeuuppss

  45. Ent I totally agree…. Its like watching a boxing match whereby one opponent goes to a corner stoops down and receive punches all night long and then sticks in a little punch here and there.

  46. hehehehe Mr. Live Wire really good yes.

  47. He is no Maradona. But he will do. Lol. Messi-dona!!

  48. never…. I see dat play live…. best ball control I have ever seen on any footballer… But as much as I hate Argentina, I loved the fat man (even started supporting Napoli because of him)…and that youth man is not in the same class…. HE real good… but he is no Maradona

  49. Lol. Why do you deserve a point for having ten players in and around your penalty area when the other team has a player that can do what Messi did?
    Argentina produced a piece of magic that Iran could not and that is why they deserve full points in my opinion.

  50. Amen yuh preaching really good yes.

  51. I think that Iran deserved a draw in that game and did themselves proud considering the fact that they created more and better chances than Argentina in that game and it took the magic of Messi to win that game for Argentina. Referee was the 12 man for Argentina in that match! 🙂

  52. Lol. Briggsie, Messi will convert you before next month!

  53. Steups. Iran got what it deserved. Zero points and Messi shirt as a souvenir. The Warriors offered more in 2006.

  54. Brazi To Earl remember d first game they pay Reff

  55. Iran is a good team. I realized that even before they beat T&T 2-0 in the pre-World Cup warm-up friendly. I think Iran could feel hard done by the referee for not awarding them that clear penalty in the 2nd half which could have led to them winning the game or at least securing a draw. The Iran players and coach can be proud of their performances so far in this world cup.

  56. aye…. even for you it is still sacrilege to hybrid Messi and Maradona…only thing them have in common is the 1st letter in they name…. that not ready yet

  57. I only hope that you mentioned about the penalty that wasn’t given against your team because I am not even going and read your story fuss ah vex. hahahahha