After eight years Lionel Messi finally has a World Cup, leading Argentina to a 2-1 win over Bosnia in a tense and close match that opened with the favorites in Group F taking the lead early after an own goal by Sead Kolasinac and ended with Vedad Ibisevic giving the Bosnian side some false hope in the final minutes.
Overall, it wasn’t a great game. Argentina started the match in the most defensive and cautious lineup available to them. Bosnia refrained from using two strikers as well, using Edin Dzeko all alone up front, having a frustrating day with very few meaningful touches for him. Argentina took the lead after only just three minutes, as a free kick cross bounced off of Kolasinac’s foot as he wasn’t even looking at the ball.
Argentina simply fell back and let Bosnia dominate possession, getting in some good tries through Miralem Pjanic and Zvjezdan Misimovic, providing the creative part of Bosnia’s attack. However, except for some long range shots which Sergio Romero handled quite well, the myth about Argentina having an awful defense didn’t come to light.
Changes were made at half time that helped Argentina regain dominance. Gonzalo Higuain was introduced and a centre back was taken off as well. Argentina began attacking by numbers and Lionel Messi, although not very accurate with the ball, became a lot more direct and aggressive, eventually leading to a nice combination between him and Higuain, as Messi made a cut to the left and hit a trademark shot that beat the keeper, bounced off the post and landed in the net.
Vedad Ibisevic, maybe introduced a bit too late in the match, managed to peg one back for Bosnia, but Argentina reacted by taking off Sergio Aguero who was having a very bad day up front and throwing in Lucas Biglia, who added some much needed freshness to a tired defense, allowing Argentina to be the more dangerous team in the final minutes through their counter attacks which didn’t mount to much.
Argentina start off without great football but by handling the pressure against their main rivals for first place in the group. Lionel Messi didn’t look effective for most of the match but that didn’t stop him from trying. He can be sharper, more accurate and overall better, but his play to set up his own goal shows that he isn’t planning on letting the critics get the best of him in this World Cup.