2014 World Cup Preview: Group F

Group F - Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Argentina
Ranked 5th in the world
Qualified by winning the CONMEBOL region with a 9-2-5 record.

The 1978 and 1986 World Cup champions haven't advanced past the quarterfinals since dropping the final to Italy in 1990, and now with the tournament in South America will be looking to make a big splash. The current team is also loaded with players who have won international tournaments, after Argentina won the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold.

Lionel Messi has been among the Balon D'or (and FIFA World Player of the Year) finalists every year since 2007, winning the award for the world's best player four straight times from 2009-2012. However, he has just one goal at the World Cup, a late tally in a 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro in 2006. At just 26 years old, he is already playing in his third World Cup, and this could be the year he leads Argentina back to the final. With a supporting cast that includes the likes of Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain, Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano and Real Madrid's Angel di Maria, Argentina has the fire power to make a long run.

Bosnia-Herzegovina
Ranked 21st in the world
Finished 8-1-1 to win Group G in UEFA to qualify.

This is the first time Bosnia-Herzegovina has qualified for the World Cup but an impressive showing in qualifying and a friendly draw (outside of Argentina) has the team optimistic.

The trio of Edin Dzeko, Vedad Ibisevic and Zvjezdan Misimovic makes for an imposing attack for the World Cup necomers. Dzeko has big club experience with Manchester City, where he has 46 goals in 108 matches in league play and won two Premier League titles. Ibisevic, meanwhile, took a different path to success, playing collegiately at St. Louis and in the PDL for Chicago Fire Premier back in 2004 before moving on to play in France and Germany, where he now plays for Stuttgart.

Iran
Ranked 43rd in the world
Qualified with a first place finish in Group A of Asia with a 10-4-2 record.

This is Iran's fourth World Cup appearance, making a return after missing the 2010 tournament. Iran is consistently among the top teams in the AFC Asian Cup, but hasn't translated that success to the World Cup, where it has a 1-6-2 record with the lone win coming in 1998.

Javad Nekounam captains Iran and has 37 goals in 140 appearances. He played his most high-profile soccer with Spain's Osasuna and has been the leader of Iran's national team for some time. Iran is also helped by two recent additions in forward Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton Athletic) and defender Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps FC).

Nigeria
Ranked 45th in the world.
Qualified out of Africa with a 3-0-3 record in the Group Stage, then beat Ethiopia in a playoff.

Nigeria has qualified for five of the last six World Cups, finishing first in its group in 1994 and 1998 and fourth in 2002 and 2010. With a favorable schedule, Nigeria could get back to the Round of 16 again in 2014.

Only three regular starters remain from the 2010 World Cup team – goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defender Joseph Yobo and forward Peter Odemwingie. In John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses, Nigeria has some top-level talent in the midfield, but will that be enough to get past Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina to advance?

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