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The 2010 World Cup – Group B

Diego Maradona may be out of his mind, but even his loony approach to managing won’t keep Argentina from advancing; they have the tournament’s best player (the 5-foot-7 attacking magician Lionel Messi) and most in-form striker (Diego Milito of European champs Inter Milan). Nigeria has too many defensive problems to advance. So that leaves either South Korea or Greece. The Greeks have the oldest manager in the Cup in 71-year-old German Otto Rehhagel and the ugliest style of mind-numbingly boring, novacaine-worthy negative defensive soccer imaginable.

The matches
Korea Republic-Greece, Group B, Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, 13.30 (local time)
Argentina-Nigeria, Group B, Johannesburg (Ellis Park), 16.00 (local time)
England-USA, Group C, Rustenburg, 20.30 (local time)

The big game Argentina-Nigeria

Ahead of Argentina’s opening match against the Super Eagles, Maradona is well aware that his chosen starting XI will provoke much discussion, analysis, criticism and praise back home. The former world champion has promised an attacking line-up, possibly with Lionel Messi operating just behind a front pairing of Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain. Maradona is likely to opt for three at the back, with Martin Demichelis and Gabriel Heinze flanking the vastly experienced Walter Samuel. Highly fancied to go far this time round due to their immense goalscoring potential, La Albiceleste will now need to confirm that potential on the pitch.

In the opposing camp, Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback, though deprived of one of his driving forces, the injured John Obi Mikel, has made it clear that his team are not in South Africa to simply make up the numbers. Nigeria have lost to Argentina at the FIFA World Cup twice before, in 1994 (1-2) and in 2002 (0-1). Nigeria fans, however, will hope that on their own continent they will constitute an altogether different prospect.




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