OUtside of Brazil, Argentina is the second heaviest favorite to win their group. Not only are they considered one of the best teams in the world, but they also get a winnable group. While it doesn’t include any other world powers, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria can all provide some fun matches.
Here are the current odds from 5dimes.com to win Group F
The obvious player to start with is Lionel Messi. Strangely enough, he’s still only 26 years old, yet it feels like he’s been around for much longer. He will look to make a mark on the international level, which is something he hasn’t really done in a major Tournament yet. Messi failed to Scorein all five of Argentina’s matches in South Africa. Of course, he’s not the only player to worry about for the Argentines, that’s for sure.
Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel LAvezzi are all fantastic options up front. The midfield has more attackers with Maxi Rodriguez and Angel di Maria, but Javier Mascherano completes them with his defensive capability. Defense is their obvious weakness with Pablo Zabaleta and Fabricio Coloccini being the top options with Sergio Romero in the net.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the next favorite to advance according to the odds, but not by a huge margin. Their match with Nigeria could decide the second-place team. Bosnia played Argentina in a friendly last November in the USA and lost 2-0.
Unlike a lot of European teams, Bosnia’s defense is probably one of their weakest spots with Emir Spahi being their only regular option. The good news is that Asmir Begovic is an experienced goalkeeper that can help out greatly. The biggest name on the squad is Manchester City’s forward Edin Dzeko, who needs to come through for his country. He has an incredible 33 goals in 60 caps for his country. He’s joined by Vedad Ibisevic and Zvjezdan Misimovic as the other top choices to make a difference for Bosnia.
Nigeria is right behind Bosnia in the odds department and will be playing in their fifth World Cup in their last six chances. While they haven’t advanced past group stages since 1998, this could be their best squad since those days.
John Obi Mikel is the most important piece for Nigeria and his role is completely different than what he does for Chelsea. That’s going to be the main thing as Mikel does everything for Nigeria, including on the attacking end. They have multiple options to look at for forward in Victor Obinna, Brown Ideye, Emmanuel Emenike and the recently added Shola Ameobi. Victor Moses is a strong player in the midfield as well. The defense will be led by veteran Joseph Yobo, but it’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who could possibly give them a chance against someone like Argentina.
Iran isn’t getting much love, but the fact that they topped South Korea and Uzbekistan in qualifications can’t be overlooked. Not to mention they are led by Carlos Queiroz, former Portugal and Real Madrid manager, having coached Portugal in the 2010 World Cup.
Their roster doesn’t stand out with big names, but leadership and experience combined with youth will be their best tool. Midfielder Javad Nekounam has been around forever and has 136 caps for the country. Reza Ghoochannejhad is a player to watch out for and not just because of his name. Nevertheless, no matter what players they put forth, it’s going to be an uphill battle.
If Argentina doesn’t win this group, it’s going to be a major upset. Putting Messi and Aguero on the same team seems unfair and they will be huge problems for all teams in this group. Nigeria faces Bosnia and Herzegovina in their second Game of the Tournament and that could easily decide second place, unless Iran upsets one of those teams. Bosnia is the bigger favorite to advance, but Nigeria should not be overlooked and is probably the better bet for the odds given.