5 Things for Argentina to Be Positive About Following Win Against Nigeria
Ladies and gentlemen, watch out for the Argentina national team. Alejandro Sabella's men made a statement of their intentions in the World Cup on Wednesday, taking down Nigeria—yet to concede a goal in their own campaign—by a 3-2 scoreline in Porto Alegre.
As a result, the Argentines finish top of Group F by a comfortable margin.
There are still kinks to iron out in the Seleccion machine, and still more to come from a side packed with attacking superstars. However, from the evidence of Wednesday afternoon, there are plenty of positives to be drawn as well.
Rojo and Romero Have Proved Doubters Wrong
Ahead of the tournament, the defence was singled out as the sole reason why Argentina may not have what it takes to win the 2014 World Cup.
While the unit has enjoyed mixed fortunes since arriving on Brazilian soil, the two perceived weak links have proved to be some of the strongest.
Marcos Rojo continued his reinvention as a top-class defender with another encouraging performance down the left. His crossing may still leave a little to be desired, but he is getting forward more than ever, and his goal to finally down a dogged Nigeria was no less than he deserved.
Sergio Romero, meanwhile, could not be held at fault for either of Ahmed Musa's two goals. The Monaco reserve built on an excellent showing against Iran with another solid display, raising hopes that Alejandro Sabella's faith may be well placed.
Lavezzi Is One Very Useful Substitute
"He looked a little nervous, we had to relax him a bit."
Argentina's resident prankster, Ezequiel Lavezzi, used that explanation to justify spraying water on a fuming Sabella during a tense point in the clash against Nigeria, according to La Nacion (in Spanish).
Besides his practical jokes, the Paris Saint-Germain forward showed his worth to Argentina when he entered for an injured Sergio Aguero before half-time.
Pocho may not possess the same refined skills, but he does have an inexhaustible work rate to keep pushing defences in the latter period of key matches.
His talents off the bench could prove invaluable to the Albiceleste as the tournament continues.
The Team Have Been Perfect so Far
Argentina's flawless progress through the group stages has passed almost unnoticed by local and international media, who preferred to focus on two disappointing performances at the start of the World Cup.
In any case, the facts do not lie.
The nation topped Group F with a 100 percent win record matched only by Netherlands and Colombia.
The Albiceleste may have had to win ugly, but that is the hallmark of a champion side. The positive thing is that we can expect much more from the star-studded South Americans as the tournament wears on.
They Have Tremendous Support
Argentine football fans were expected to make a big impression on the World Cup.
However, not even the most fanatical supporters could have predicted some 100,000 people descending on the city of Porto Alegre, per the Buenos Aires Herald—most of them without even the slightest hope of gaining a ticket.
That unconditional support means that essentially every game the Albiceleste contest, with the obvious exception of a possible final against Brazil, is likely to be played in front of an overwhelmingly partisan crowd.
It could prove vital at the end of the World Cup in the toughest matches to come.
Messi Is Hitting His Best Barcelona Form
It was the question that every single Argentine football fanatic wanted an answer to.
After watching Lionel Messi struggle through the 2010 World Cup and 2011 Copa America, did the Barcelona wizard have the spirit and guts to make it happen at the head of his national team?
The answer so far in Brazil has been an emphatic yes.
La Pulga scored two more to down Nigeria, taking his tally for the World Cup to an impressive four in just three games. The No. 10 matched Oreste Corbatta's 1958 record of scoring in every group game, and seems to get better with every match he plays.