Skip to main content

Three quick thoughts: Argentina-Nigeria


Three thoughts after Argentina's 1-0 victory over Nigeria in Group B:

1. Argentina's 4-3-3 worked, sort of. In an attempt to get his three best attacking players on the field at once, Diego Maradona began the game with what looked like a 4-3-3 with Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain up top. Messi, situated mostly in the middle, thrived. He roamed the field, found space and created numerous chances. The freedom a 4-3-3 gives its attackers suited him. But it remains to be seen whether that formation will provide enough defensive cover against a better team. Nigeria is inexperienced and short on inventive players, and yet the Super Eagles created many decent chances, mostly through the midfield, where they found plenty of space.

2. Higuain might need to sit. Maradona initially resisted starting Higuain and perhaps his first instinct was the right one. The Real Madrid attacker missed numerous chances before giving way to Diego Milito in the 79th minute. Milito, the Inter Milan striker who starred in the Champions League final, might be a better choice to start against South Korea on June 17 if Maradona wants three attackers. (Or perhaps Atlético Madrid's exciting Sergio Aguero gets a look.) After seeing what South Korea did to Greece, perhaps Maradona goes with a more defensive lineup. Either way, Higuain didn't earn another start.

SI Recommends

3. Vincent Enyeama was unreal. The 27-year-old Nigerian goalkeeper, who plays professionally in Israel, stopped at least three sure goals by Messi, and made six saves in total. Had Argentina scored three or four goals, the Super Eagles' already slim chances of getting out of group would be microscopic. But by losing only 1-0 to the group favorite, Nigeria remains alive. On a night when many Nigerians seemed averse to marking, Enyeama was a godsend.