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World Cup reaction: Messi’s goal eases Argentina’s stutter

| 16.06.2014

There are many, most of them working for news.ladbrokes, who believe this will be Lionel Messi’s and Argentina’s year to land the World Cup.

Having got their campaign underway against potential banana-skin opponents Bosnia in a limp but successful fashion, there won’t be much surprise if a few bodies are spied leaping off the Albiceleste’s bandwagon as it trundles on to their next match.

A 2-1 win against Edin Dzeko’s men provided Argentina with the desired result, but their performance certainly didn’t point to a side that has arrived in Brazil with every limb working in perfect coordination with the other.

Alejandro Sabella’s side are still the 7/2 second-favourites behind Brazil to win their third title on this stage, but like their South American rivals against Croatia, struggled to overcome a solid eastern European outfit.

How Messi impacts the World Cup will be vital to Argentina’s chances and the Barcelona forward’s first-half frustrations embodied his nation’s state of mind in the opening period.

Forced to drop deep to pick up the ball, the diminutive star’s intention to put a stamp on this tournament was clear. For much of the first 45 minutes the execution lacked though, as Messi turned to run at Bosnia on numerous occasions only to see his mere-mortal opponents take the ball from him.

As Sabella switched from an eyebrow-raising 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 in the second half, Argentina grew in confidence.

They say a World Cup campaign is a marathon rather than a sprint, and Messi’s eventual contribution will loosen both his and his side’s hamstrings as they bid to cross the finish line first.

Scoring the winning goal in the dazzling fashion he’s become known for, the 5/1 Golden Boot shot showed in a flash that this tournament can be his for the taking, although a far more dominant performance against Iran next time out will be expected.

Watch Messi’s dazzling goal below:

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.