Argentina got off to a flyer when a Messi set piece found its way to the back post, eventually ricocheting off Kolasinac past Begovic to put the Argentines 1-0 up after only 3 minutes. Upon first look it looked as if it was a mistake from the German born defender, but replays showed that there was a slight flick from Marco Rojo and Kolasinac had little time to react. The first half was pretty flat from then for the most part but Bosnia had a couple of good chances, testing the keeper on both occasions.
Bosnia were solid from their defence through to the two in front of them and were closing down the opposition very swiftly giving them no time on the ball. The better team in the first half was actually Bosnia and they were unlucky to go into the break as the losing side, as Argentina hardly troubled Asmir Begovic.
Argentina looked a tad confused with the system Sabella had chosen to start with, especially Marcos Rojo, and even though they were ahead he didn’t seem too happy with the first half display. Their problem was whenever Messi got the ball there was little or no movement from any of his teammates in front of him so he was forced to go alone most of the time.
Two changes were made at half time for Argentina despite them being 1-0 up, they reverted back to a much more familiar formation with 4 at the back. Campagnaro and Maxi Rodriguez were the players sacrificed for introduction of Higuain and Gago. The presence of Higuain up top was a big boost for Argentina, his movement was a lot more positive and dangerous than Aguero’s which gave his team-mates more time on the ball.
Messi silence all his critics with a brilliant curled finish on the edge of the area. He went past one challenge, with the ball stuck to his boot, Bosnia players falling over themselves trying to stop him. He went past another and then, with one swing of his left foot, he placed it brilliantly past Begovic and into the bottom-right corner from 18 yards – although there was a slight deflection. Take nothing away from Messi though, it was bit of magic from the Argentinian
It seemed as if the game was done and dusted before Ibisevic caught the Argentina defence napping, latched onto a Lulic through ball and slotted it through Romero’s legs, giving Bosnia a glimmer of hope in the dying minutes. Bosnia couldn’t capitalise on this and they only had one attempt before full time and this was high and wide from Medunjani.
Overall, it wasn’t a particularly impressive performance from Argentina but they’ve got the three points and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. They’ll need to improve as the tournament progresses though, otherwise they won’t go as far as many expected them to. In the end they won with an own-goal and a moment of magic from Lionel Messi. Bosnia played well and will fancy their chances of going through, which will most likely go down to their next group game against Nigeria.
Argentina:Sergio Romero, Federico Fernández, Ezequiel Garay, Hugo Campagnaro (Fernando Gago 46′), Marcos Rojo, Ángel di María, Javier Mascherano, Maxi Rodríguez (Gonzalo Higuain 46′), Pablo Zabaleta, Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Asmir Begovi?, Sead Kolašinac, Emir Spahi?, Ermin Bi?ak?i?, Mensur Mujdža (Vedad Ibisevic 69′), Miralem Pjani?, Muhamed Beši?, Senad Luli?, Zvjezdan Misimovi? (Haris Medunjanin 74′), Izet Hajrovi? (Edin Visca 71′), Edin Džeko
1. Romero – 6. Made a good save in the first half from a corner, but wasn’t tested much. Made a slight error for the Bosnia goal where the ball went through his legs into the net.
16. Rojo – 5. Had quite a troublesome time in the first half in an unfamiliar wing back role, but he was strong in the tackle and made a couple of good runs during the second half.
2. Garay – 6. Had little to do all game and was up to the task whenever the Bosnians came knocking.
17. Fernandez – 6. Had a solid game up until the Bosnia goal where he let Ibisevic go who slotted home.
3. Campagnaro – 5. Substituted at half time after a poor half for his team and was only taken off because of the change in formation.
4. Zabaleta – 6. Worked up and down the flanks as you’d expect but didn’t have too much impact in the final third.
7. Di Maria – 6. Slightly disappointing performance by his recent standards but still an all round ok game from him.
14. Mascherano – 7. Had a very solid game playing in his preferred position just in front of the defence, breaking up play and not giving the ball away cheaply.
11. Rodriguez – 5. Never really got into the game and was substituted at half time.
20. Agüero – 4. Very poor game from the explosive striker. Offered nothing going forward, lost the ball on too many occasions and was sloppy in decision making.
10. Messi – 7. Not his best game by any stretch of the imagination but he made things happen for Argentina in the second half and proved to be the difference between the two sides after the final whistle.
9. Higuain – 6. Changed the shape of the frontline when introduced and provided the assist for Messi’s goal.
5. Gago – 6. Came on at halftime and sured up the midfield with a decent performance.
6. Biglia – 5. Had no time to make any sort of impact.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
1. Begovic – 6. Couldn’t have done anything about the two goals he conceded.
5. Kolasinac – 6. Was very strong in his tackling and unfortunate to score an own goal, made up for it with a good defensive display.
4. Spahic – 7. Very solid game from the captain who made the most tackles and completed the most effective clearances out of everyone on the pitch.
3. Bicakcic – 6. Strong figure at the back for Bosnia, who worked in tandem with Spahic.
13. Mujdza – 5. Didn’t have much to do down the right hand side and was sacrificed for Ibisevic.
7. Besic – 6. Had a good game in the middle of the park and although he’s relatively inexperienced he was a calm figure.
8. Pjanic – 7. Dictacted the play for Bosnia and ran the game in the middle with Besic.
16. Lulic – 6. Caused a few problems for Zabaleta and made the assist for Ibisevic’s goal.
10. Misimovic – 6. Contributed well to the play in the midfield but couldn’t really get a hold of the game.
20. Hajrovic – 5. Had a few shots but nothing to threaten the Argentinian goal.
11. Džeko – 5. Made the least amount of touches of any outfield player that played the full 90 minutes. Not exactly his fault, but he had very little impact on the game.
9.Ibisevic – 6. Came on and provided more of a threat than Dzeko and got his just rewards with a goal.
19.Visca – 5. Hardly touched the ball and didn’t do much with it.
18.Medunjanin – 5. Made a couple of attempts on Romero’s goal but nothing to trouble the keeper.
Man of the match
Its hard to pick a man of the match in this game as I believe no player stood out enough to warrant the award. However, after a first half he will want to forget, Messi showed exactly what he is made of after the break and came out a different player. It was the tactical reshuffle, reverting back to the familiar 4-3-3 which gave Messi the space to drive into. After Higuain’s introduction Messi looked a lot happier as there were finally runners ahead of him, giving him much more time on the ball. His goal was just pure genius though, and will be sure to silence his critics for the meantime. After his goal Messi looked a much sharper figure, picking up the ball near the halfway line on a few occasions and driving at the Bosnia defence before picking out a team-mate.