With the 2014 FIFA World Cup firmly underway, we bring you the next in an in-depth series of match previews that centre on tactics, team selections and predicted XIs.
Sunday's action draws to a close with Argentina against Bosnia and Herzegovina; two high-ranked nations coming into the tournament set, seemingly, for a goal-filled encounter.
How Argentina Will Shape Up
Alejandro Sabella settled on a 4-3-3 formation that gets the best out of Lionel Messi on the right wing throughout qualifying.
Gonzalo Higuain played centre-forward and Sergio Aguero nominally from the left; Angel Di Maria surges forward from central midfield, Pablo Zabaleta does the same from the right and Javier Mascherano, at DM, holds it all together like glue.
They scored a tonne of goals during qualifying, and they enter the tournament with several elite players in top form. La Albiceleste's defensive structure has improved since the Federico Fernandez-Ezequiel Garay partnership came to fruition, and it's no longer a huge concern coming into a major tournament.
There have been suggestions Sabella will switch to a 3-5-2 system for the opener—a system rarely used but for the odd away game at altitude during qualifying—with Aguero and Messi up front together.
How Bosnia and Herzegovina Will Shape Up
Safet Susic has a big decision to make regarding his squad selection and shape: go all-out with two strikers like in qualifying or shift to a 4-2-3-1/4-3-2-1 formation and block the middle?
Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic, Emir Spahic and Asmir Begovic form the undoubted spine of this team, but filling in the blanks around them provides many questions ahead of kick-off.
Sead Kolasinac could play left-back or centre-back and Sejad Salihovic could play defence or midfield.
It's all very harsh on Vedad Ibisevic who was an assassin during qualifying, but Dzeko is the face of the squad and Argentina are one of the best three teams in the tournament.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. Runners and Switches
This will be the toughest game of Bosnia and Herzegovina's midfield's career bar none.
Messi will come inside off the left with Zabaleta overlapping, Aguero will drop into space, Higuain will poach and Di Maria will shuttle forward. It's a complete nightmare to defend.
Muhammed Besic, expected to anchor the midfield alongside Pjanic, will need to direct markers toward runners and fill spaces that open up at record speed. Whoever is selected on the left side of defence will need an extra man to deal with Messi.
Watch with interest.
An interesting shape for BIH to deploy would be a 4-3-1-2, clogging the middle, sacrificing the flanks and retaining the threat of two strikers.
Garay and Fernandez are good, but Netherlands showed us how matching a striker up one vs. one against Spain can pay all sorts of dividends.
Besic and Haris Medunjanin can play as outside CMs with Pjanic through the middle, giving them license to filter wide and pick up runners, protecting their full-backs. The one big concern is Di Maria hurtling toward them head on, but a numbers advantage in the form of three DMs can stifle it.
Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.
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