After tough test, better days ahead for Argentina

Argentina players celebrate after Bosnia's Sead Kolasinac, right, scored an own goal during the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Bosnia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 15, 2014.

I am beginning to feel sorry for each and every team preparing to take to the field in Brazil.

We have yet to suffer through a clunker of a game at this World Cup. It has to happen at some point, but I would not want to be involved in that match as so far this World Cup has been brilliant –absolutely nothing to complain about aside from the usual and expected refereeing blunders.

Some thoughts…

2014 FIFA World Cup: is your home for in-depth coverage of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. TV viewers can watch all 64 games on CBC and Sportsnet from June 12 to July 13. Be sure to watch Connected every night on Sportsnet for all of the latest news and analysis. And check out Sportsnet magazine’s team profiles of all 32 nations.

• Sure, Argentina wasn’t great against Bosnia, and a strange starting XI didn’t help its cause. Seems to me manager Alejandro Sabella was over thinking things. If Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuain weren’t healthy enough then how were they able to start the second half and look effective? As for Lionel Messi, the haters were lining up, I’m sure, but by the final whistle he’d made one goal and scored another, and looked just fine to me. This was the tough group game for Argentina, and they dealt with it, and can now worry about looking a little prettier against Nigeria and Iran. Bosnia were no disgrace and asked some questions late when for some reason Argentina looked naive, and gave the ball away at will.

• It is not an easy job being a hard man. The good ones—think Roy Keane or Graeme Souness—did it strategically and with cerebral dexterity. The bad ones, think Wilson Palacios of Honduras, does it recklessly and stupidly. His task was to upset Paul Pogba, which he did. Of course France was happy to take a banged up Pogba in exchange for a numerical advantage for more than half of the game. Palacios lost the plot, and let his country down. Can you believe he played for Stoke last year? Of course you can.

• Staying positive, let’s congratulate a couple of great refereeing performances. American Mark Geiger followed up the heroic displays by the disappearing foam to give MLS another shot in the arm after taking charge of Colombia vs. Greece on Saturday. And then today, what a brilliant advantage played by Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, prior to Haris Seferovic’s last second winner for Switzerland. Makes me want to go out and buy an Irmatov shirt.

• I cannot remember the last time I sat through an England tournament match feeling so relaxed. I really like this squad and was so refreshed to see an England team play so positively. Wayne Rooney is being destroyed, of course, but that is a little unfair. He was far from horrible, but is just a victim of being too versatile. Sadly for him, I cannot imagine Raheem Sterling or Daniel Sturridge relinquishing their central roles, so Wazza may need to get used to playing a little to the left. And for all of you being so tough on Rooney, I’d rather see him on the left than Trevor Sinclair or Emile Heskey. Short memories, huh?

• Oh yeah, what was I saying before the tournament about Uruguay?

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.