Argentina is expected to top Group FReuters

Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran are the teams competing in Group F of the 2014 World Cup.

The Argentines are heavy favourites to top the group, as well as win the World Cup. Led by Barcelona star Lionel Messi, Argentina is a very formidable opponent, with a host of talented players in their ranks.

La Albiceleste qualified for the 2014 World Cup by topping the CONMEBOL group, with nine wins, five draws and two losses. And though they have not lifted the famous trophy since the days of Diego Maradona, they are still considered one of the best teams in the world.

Despite making it to the quarterfinals in the last two World Cups, Argentina will be disappointed, considering their star-studded squad. They were knocked out by hosts Germany in a penalty shootout in 2006, while they succumbed to a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of the same opponent in South Africa.

However, Argentina will be hoping to go much further than the last eight this year.

The team's strength is their fire power upfront. The five star forwards - Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan) and Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St-Germain) - have scored a whooping 124 goals between them, for their respective clubs last season.

The midfield consisting of players like Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Angel di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's Old Boys) and Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan) is also very strong, compared to most other teams.

The backline is also pretty decent with players including Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis (both Manchester City), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica) and Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan)  protecting their goal.

But despite possessing a strong squad on paper, Argentina lacks balance which cost them the last World Cup. No.1 goalkeeper Sergio Romero is also a weak link as he only made three Ligue 1 appearances for Monaco this season.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is keen to make a strong statement in their maiden World Cup campaignReuters

Though Bosnia and Herzegovina are playing their first ever World Cup, they are not being dubbed the underdogs of the group or the tournament. On the contrary, most people are counting on the Bosnians to qualify to the knockout stages of the competition.

With ample attacking talent and technical ability, Bosnia found the nets 30 times (from 10 games) during their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Safet Susic's side, which is full of playmakers and forwards, can come good against weaker teams. However, they do tend to struggle against the big teams, who take the attack to them. Also, Bosnia's defence is not very strong, and are known to panic and make silly mistakes under pressure.

It will be interesting to see Susic's tactics when his side faces the likes of Argentina.

Nigeria is hoping to impress in the 2014 World CupReuters

Nigeria has undergone a major transformation in the last couple of years, under new boss Steven Keshi. Although Keshi did not find instant success (as Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations), he started building the team brick by brick.

Keshi's policy of lowering the average team age by selecting young players worked like a charm as the Super Eagles went on to win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (their first since 1994).

However, they were not very impressive in the 2013 Confederations Cup, where they suffered two back-to-back defeats against Italy and Uruguay, after a 6-1 win over minnows Tahiti.

But their road to the 2014 World Cup was quite easy as they were the only side (apart from Ivory Coast) to not lose a single game during the qualifiers.

Iran is looking to win respect at the 2014 World CupReuters

Iran is certainly the underdogs of Group F, despite them being the highest ranked team in Asia.

Iran's 2014 World Cup dreams were nearly over after just two wins in their first five qualifying games but they then made a strong comeback, winning three back-to-back matches to top their group.

Iran's backline was particularly impressive as they managed to keep 10 cleansheets during the qualifiers.

However, they will need to work harder if they are to earn some respect in Brazil. The Iranians' build up play is very poor, and they often lack the cutting edge, which was evident during their friendlies against Belarus and Montenegro (both goalless draws) and Angola (1-1).

Key Players

Argentina: Despite the recent dip in form, Messi managed to score 28 and assist 11 goals in La Liga. However, the 26-year-old, who is often accused of not bringing his club form to the international games, has been in good touch for Argentina, netting 10 goals in 14 qualifying games.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: City striker Edin Dzeko is definitely the go-to man for Bosnia, scoring 16 goals in the Premier League this season. With very strong finishing and heading abilities, the 28-year-old, who always finds key goals for the Premier League champions, combined with VfB Stuttgart's Vedad Ibisevic to score 18 goals for Bosnia during the qualifiers.

Nigeria: Chelsea winger Victor Moses (who spent the last season on loan at Liverpool) is probably Nigeria's most influential player, though he made very few appearances for the Reds last season. After breaking into the international scene in 2012, Moses has provided some cutting edge to the Super Eagles.

Iran: Charlton Athletic forward Reza Ghoochannejhad is probably key for Iran at the World Cup. Despite making his international debut only a year ago, the 26-year-old has already managed to score six goals for his country.


15 June 2014: Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro

16 June 2014: Iran v Nigeria, Arena da Baixada, Curitiba

21 June 2014: Argentina v Iran, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte

21 June 2014: Nigeria v Bosnia-Herzegovina, Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba

25 June 2014: Nigeria v Argentina, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre

25 June 2014: Bosnia-Herzegovina v Iran, Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador

Predictions: Argentina to top the group, with Bosnia-Herzegovina in second, followed by Nigeria and Iran.