World Cup 2010: Argentina and Messi Defeat Nigeria, 1-0

June 12, 2010

With so much controversy and criticism surrounding Argentina's unimpressive play during the qualifying rounds, the world and an estimated fifty-five thousand spectators in attendance were eager to learn whether Diego Maradona finally had managed to resolve his team's issues in time for their opening World Cup game against Nigeria.

Apparently, Maradona knew what he was doing all along because Argentina got the dream start they wanted and needed. More importantly, Argentina played well enough to put some fear into the tournament's other teams.

Led by none other than Lionel Messi - arguably the world’s best player - and spurred by the likes of Higuain and Tevez, Argentina got off to an explosive start that left Nigeria baffled.

In a 3rd minute, classic Messi-style run, Messi went straight at three awestruck defenders, blowing by them brilliantly in a manner similar to what we have already seen him do so many times at Barcelona.

Within the first six minutes, Messi had created two decent scoring opportunities for others, while generating one shot on net for himself. That shot would produce the corner kick which eventually would lead to defender Gabriel Heinze's game-winning goal.

Heinze’s powerful header to the upper left corner marked Argentina’s first goal of the tournament, giving them a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish. The Real Madrid defender took advantage of sloppy marking which left him virtually alone in the 12-yard mark.

By doing a good job of keeping up with Messi, Argentina let everyone know that not only is their all-star lineup present, it is also ready to play. Messi meanwhile, like all the greats, intimidated the other team with his individual ability, and simultaneously provided confidence and support to his teammates.

Still, Messi did have his struggles, as his beautifully-created 5th minute shot missed the net entirely - a recurring event throughout the game.

Whether it was nerves, an off day, or the perhaps the effects of the new Adidas ball introduced at this tournament, Messi had numerous chances that were well within his scoring range, but which missed the net.

Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama had a busy day defending those attempts, but Nigeria did manage to generate some offense by getting off 11 shots, albeit with only one on target. For Nigeria, their inability to score was all too familiar, as it has haunted the team for quite some time now.

As expected from a squad with only one accurate shot on goal and just 42% of the possession, Nigeria looked like a team suffering from the same type of top-down disorganization that had the Super Eagles coach-less merely three months ago.

What We Learned From This Game

Today, Argentina showed the world that they are indeed legitimate World Cup contenders.

Argentina took care of business by getting the lead and not losing it. With promising forward-movement, high pass completion rates, and a defense that appeared steady and cohesive, this team is going far. Look for Messi to shed his finishing woes and break the 10-game scoreless streak that has marked his recent national team play.

The World Cup is a great stage where the weak wither and the wannabes are exposed. During qualifying, the conflict of balancing experience and youth has long been a struggle for Argentina, but it appears Maradona has finally got it right with the players he has chosen and the positions he has assigned.

At the risk of sounding overly excited prior to even seeing a quarter of the teams play, TheDailySportsHerald predicts that this squad is going to the quarterfinals at a minimum.

In the other Group B match, South Korea beat Greece 2-0.

By Adrian Yeung
Staff Reporter for

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...