A tense, grinding match. Both sides stuck to their strategies — with Argentina possessing and attacking, and Iran sitting back and defending — but the arc of the game was still plenty surprising.
Who would have expected that Iran would manage to hold off their powerful opponents until the first minute of stoppage time? It took a brilliant bit of play from Lionel Messi to get Argentina their three points.
There is joy in Buenos Aires, maybe not so much in Teheran. But Iran was brilliant, really. A team of players from the Iranian league (plus Fulham’s Dejagah) didn’t just shut down such world-class stars as Aguero and Higuain, but they looked at moments like they might come away with three points. They didn’t quite have the quality to finish, but they came very close to playing the spoiler.
And Argentina? Not impressive. They may be through to the knockout stage, but their days are numbered if their strategy is simply to wait for Messi to create a little magic in the final minutes. The ability is there, for sure, but they’re going to need to play with more intensity, and do a much better job at adjusting to different defenses.
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