World Cup 2014: Matchday Fourteen (Group F, E)

Nigeria 2 – 3 Argentina

A game characterised by rapid activity at the opening and closing of each half, where neither side really seemed too bothered taking it seriously.

Messi was showing his strengths throughout the game, smashing the ball into the roof of the net within a few minutes. Nigeria, from a well worked move down the left, were quickly on level terms with Musa’s curling shot, all before the game had settled into any kind of pattern.

The defences were not having a good time, and on multiple occasions both sides were finding space and the opportunities to shoot at goal, but few threatened to actual challenge the keepers. Messi’s late free kick was the next time somebody really did that, and the sweetly struck ball was in the back of the net before Enyeama could really do anything about it.

You shouldn’t concede just before the half, but neither should you concede at the start of the second, Musa with a fine one two move with Emenike before finishing smartly past Romero. Thet galvanised Argentina, and they had two shots on target from Di Mario within a few minutes, before Rosa’s awkwardly banged in go ahead goal.

With the other game making this one largely meaningless, the two sides were left to play out a rather pedestrian encounter, neither team willing to kill themselves with progression only just around the corner for both. Di Maria came closest to scoring once more in the dying moments, but a fine same from Enyeama kept the scoreline a bit more respectable than it might have been.

Argentina have never really gotten into first gear in the tournament so far – perhaps they never will – but are more than capable of going far if they get their act together. Nigeria are decent and have a striker with wonderful pace in Musa, but the next test is going to be very difficult.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 3 – 1 Iran

The Europeans clearly wanted to give a better account of themselves than they already had in this tournament, while Iran were unsuited to a game where they had to get three points. Dzeko did well for his opener, taking advantage of a major defensive error, before setting up Susic and Pjanic to get the second.

Iran were forced to throw a lot into attack, and finally got their first goal of the tournament with Ghoochannejhad tap-in, but Bosnia and Herzegovina were in no mood to let things slip, Vrsajevic’s cool left wing finish enough to wrap things up. A disappointing ending for Iran who should have been in a better position than this. Bosnia and Herzegovina must rue missed chances against Nigeria.

Ecuador 0 – 0 France

France made a lot of changes after their impressive second game, while Ecuador seemed determined to play as if they felt Honduras would do them a favour.

Perhaps it was tiredness, as Ecuador persisted with most of the line-up that ran themselves ragged against Honduras.  Enner Valencia, their star man, had their best opportunity of the half, but it was France otherwise controlling things, with Pogba and Sissoko having more opportunities at the other end, even if France were clearly not playing to their absolute best.

This pattern continued in the second. Despite the news coming from the other game Ecuador stuck rigidly to a conservative 4-4-2, until captain Antonio Valencia deserved red card. From there Ecuador seemed content to pull back and invite the French on, with Pogba and Benzema failing to convert a score of chances. The French were peppering the Ecuadorian goal with shots, but most were being blocked or defelcted out.

It wasn’t until the last 10 or so minutes that Ecuador, desperate decided to have a go, with Noboa and Ibarra both having very good chances to win the game for the South Americans. The score in the other game made it all so very meaningless however, and the game ended tamely, Ecuador struggling to effect any more chances and France no longer willing to exhaust themselves in defence of already secured progression.

France are good. They have a great time and great strength in depth, and have shown a certain level of quality all over the pitch. They could surprise people yet. Ecuador seemed strangely nonplussed throughout most of this game, as if they never really felt like they could get anything out of it at all.

Honduras 0 – 3 Switzerland

The Swiss needed a win, and were lucky enough that their opposition was this God awful Central American side. With Shaqiri in flying form the result was all but assured, the Muncih forward taking all three of his goals well, with help from Drmic for the latter two.

Honduras have barely looked competitive at any point in this competition, and rarely caused the Swiss defence any major worries. More interested in hard tackling than hard playing, they fully deserve their status as one of the World Cups worst teams. The Swiss have the capacity to cause an upset in the next round, but they will have to avoid an implosion like the one that occurred against France.

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