clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2014 World Cup: A primer for new fans

Now you can finally see that Lionel Messi guy you've been hearing so much about.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

New or casual fans of soccer will be tuning in on Sunday to see Lionel Messi star for Argentina, but they're getting into much more than that. Bosnia and Herzegovia are a highly entertaining side, and this has the potential to be the best game of the entire tournament.

Playing styles

You'd think that a team built around Messi and including Javier Mascherano as another key player would try to play like Barcelona, but Argentina are much more like Real Madrid than the Blaugrana. They're very stylish, but they like to do it at a quicker pace than Barca, and they're more likely to try a risky vertical pass than knock the ball around patiently, waiting for an opportunity.

Bosnia are actually quite similar, so this game has the potential to be very, very fun. The Bosnians don't have anyone quite as good as Messi or any midfielders as athletic as Angel Di Maria, but they arguably have the better passers and center forward.

Argentina's stars

I am going to assume that, because you have clicked on a soccer article, you are at least somewhat aware of Lionel Messi's existence. The biggest difference between how he plays at Barcelona and how he'll play for Argentina is that he'll have a true striker in front of him on Sunday. Messi will operate more like a playmaker than a center forward.

The most interesting guy to keep an eye on probably isn't Messi, though. That distinction goes to his club rival Angel Di Maria, who had a brilliant season for Real Madrid. He doesn't have a true position -- he's part left winger, part central midfielder -- but he's a huge player for Argentina. When they win the ball back from Bosnia and take off on the counter, he'll be the man orchestrating that.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's stars

Edin Dzeko is by far the biggest, and he's good enough that Bosnia are consistently going to be a threat to score even if they don't have a lot of the ball, or struggle to get it into the box. One corner or long ball up to Dzeko is enough to generate a potential scoring opportunity.

But they should have plenty of the ball, because they're not going to switch to a defensive style just because they're playing against Argentina. And if they are keeping the ball well and creating chances for Dzeko, most of them will probably come through Miralem Pjanić, their star central playmaker. He had a brilliant season for Roma in Italy and he's one of the best passers in the world.