2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Estadio Mineirao – Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Argentina -1000, Iran +1800, Tie +850
Over/Under: 3.5 Goals (Over +130, Under -158)
Group F play of the 2014 World Cup continues on Saturday afternoon with Argentina heavily favored to pick up three points against Iran.
Argentina was also a big favorite to take out Bosnia-Herzegovina in their opening match, but barely escaped with a 2-1 victory. Iran is the clear underdog in Group F, but was able to keep Nigeria off the scoreboard in a 0-0 tie to open their tournament. These nations are meeting for just the second time ever, with the first matchup ending in a 1-1 draw in a friendly match in Madrid. Both teams will likely be missing one player, as Argentina's Rodrigo Palacio is questionable, while Iran's Sardar Azmoun is doubtful to play.
Argentina got on the board early against Bosnia-Herzegovina with a fortunate own goal at the three-minute mark, and then star Lionel Messi put the game away with a goal 65 minutes in. This was only Messi's second career goal in World Cup play despite this being his third such tournament, and he had an up-and-down match, especially with some inaccurate shooting and poor passing in the first half. The Maracana held their opponent scoreless until the 85th minute, but the outcome could have gone either way, as Bosnia-Herzegovina had the advantage in total shots (16-11), shots on goal (11-5) and corner kicks (6-2). Argentina did keep possession for 55% of the time though, and committed only 10 fouls. One of those fouls resulted in a yellow card for Marcos Rojo.
Iran was dominated in time of possession by Nigeria, 63% to 37%, but the other match stats were pretty even. Their opponents held a slight 10-7 shots advantage (6-3 on goal), and there was just one offsides called the entire match (on Iran). But the game was pretty physical with 34 fouls called (18 on Iran), and Andranik Timotian picked up the lone yellow card at the 75-minute mark. The club will look to Ashkan Dejagah to bring a stronger performance than he did in the opener when he made some subpar passes and created only a couple of scoring chances for his teammates. Iran will likely try to pack in the defense on Saturday and would gladly settle for scoreless tie versus the group favorites.