Sunday, at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil the Argentine National Football Team defeated its opposite from Bosnia-Herzegovina by 2-1 in the opening game of World Cup 2014’s Group F, the weakest group in the tournament.
The game could not have started any worse for Bosnia nor better for Argentina. At the third minute Bosnia’s Sead Kolasinac had a crossed ball into the box bounce off his leg and into the corner of the goal where keeper, Asmir Begovic, had no chance.
Unbelievably the bizarre beginning seemed to discombobulate rather than urge the Argentines and Bosnia took over the half, having the better possession and scoring chances and being unfortunate not to draw before halftime. Nevertheless the teams went into the locker rooms with the South Americans ahead by the one own goal.
The game continued a disputed affair for the first 15 minutes of the second half and then the Bosnia’s seemed to fade. The effort of the first half showing as they did not contest every ball and did not continue their very effective high pressing game. The Argentines seemed to notice and in particular Lionel Messi who began to drop back and get involved with play a lot earlier.
At the 65th minute a series of passes down the middle of the field in a straight line toward the Bosnian goal took a sideways direction, toward the right, where Messi likes to start his across the box runs with Barcelona. Sure enough the play materialized in a carbon copy of his Spanish Football moves and ended as all Messi runs do with a shot on goal from the top and middle of the box. The ball took a deflection, got past keeper Begovic’s divining stretch, hit the left post and ran along the line to the other post before ricocheting into the goal for what would become the decisive second score.
Once enjoying a two-goal lead, and acting with much more confidence and relief, the Argentines ran the clock but kept an eye for the given counter. The Bosnians went all out substituting for attacking players and putting their back line in jeopardy, but obtaining their objective.
At the 84th minute substitute Vedad Ibesivic, who had come in at the 69th minute, was led into the box by a beautiful through pass and he slotted between the legs of Sergio Romero, the Argentine goalkeeper, for the score. Argentina 2, Bosnia 1.
The game became frantic as the Bosnian’s smelled a draw and the Argentines felt the pressure. But the stress and effort of the game caught up with everyone as repeated opportunities went begging on both ends before the final whistle.
Bosnia played a great game, and kept the goal differential manageable, against a much better team, a team that nevertheless did not quite reach its highest gear and needed one moment of Messi magic to settle the match.