Messi to take centre stage at Rio’s Maracana

Argentina, with striker Lionel Messi, face World Cup debutants Bosnia in group F at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana.

Lionel Messi takes centre stage today when Argentina face Bosnia in their World Cup opener in Rio De Janeiro.

The four-times world player of the year will lead the Argentinian attack on Sunday as the team begins the tournament against an inexperienced Bosnia side looking to Edin Dzeko for goals.

The World Cup debutants Bosnia will remain true to their attacking instincts in the Group F match at the Maracana stadium, coach Safet Susic said on Saturday.

“We are going to play with three attackers tomorrow and at least two attacking midfielders and two fullbacks who keep on attacking and going forward,” Susic said.

“This is how we play football. We can’t play any other kind of football, nor do I want us to play any other kind of football,” he said.

The game starts at 19:00 local time.

Group E

A meeting between Switzerland and Ecuador in Brasilia at 13:00 local time could be instrumental in deciding who finishes second in Group E where France are seen as likely winners and Honduras are considered rank outsiders.

The pressure is on France to beat Honduras in their opening World Cup match, and coach Didier Deschamps hopes his relatively inexperienced squad is mature enough to handle the expectations.

Deschamps points to Spain’s 5-1 defeat by the Netherlands on Friday, and Brazil’s scrappy opener against Croatia the day before, as evidence that nerves can affect favourites in an opening match that often sets the tone for the ensuing games.

France should know.

Four years ago, France had a 0-0 draw with Uruguay and went out of the group stage without winning a game.

Four years before that, France drew 0-0 against the Swiss and only scraped into the second round with two second-half goals against Togo in their last group game.

“Even when a great team like Spain has an enormous amount of confidence and serenity, things are never evident,” Deschamps said Saturday.

“All the teams are prepared here. There might not be that much of a difference.”

Uruguay also failed to live up to their reputation as a dangerous contender. A semifinalist four years ago, Uruguay had an lost 3-1 to Costa Rica on Saturday.

“The difficulty of the first game also comes into it, with the different levels of preparation,” Deschamps said.  “Brazil’s first match wasn’t easy against Croatia, either, and ours won’t be easy.”

Source: News Agencies