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World Cup 2018 (part 1) – Argentina made 5th favourites

Reporter: Hello and welcome to the first World Cup ever staged in Eastern Europe. The qualifying stages are over and the most entertaining show on earth is just around the corner. All 32 nations participating in the 2018 World Cup have earned their place. Russia were handed a free pass as hosts, while Ghana earned this right four years ago, by winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. We saw some shocking results during the previous tournament, including Brazil, England, Argentina and Spain’s group stage elimination. While history is unlikely to repeat itself, that is the beauty of this great competition, you just never know what will happen. Lets get this broadcast under way by announcing the bookies favourite. Argentina boss, Darren Smith, will have been expecting some short odds to match their number one World ranking. However, the pundits and bookies seem to share a different point of view. In fact, the early odds indicate that Argentina aren’t even in the top three to win this years World Cup. Spain are the odds on favourites, while Italy, England and France make up the top four respectively. Smith may be bemused by the 3-1 odds on offer, but one things for sure, this is one of the tightest World Cups in recent years.

The Argentina squad was announced earlier today and Smith has included some big names as well as a few surprises. The key players must be Lionel Messi, Matias Becerra and Sergio Aguero (click on the names to view attributes.) This attacking trio have scored more than 110 goals between them for Argentina. The number one nation must feel their only weakness is in the full back positions. While Ortiz, Insua, Mussachio and Simon are good, they may not be seen as world class. However, a quick look at some of the surprise inclusions by Smith, shows just how amazing his squad are going forward. Cavallo could be used as second string to Millemaggi, but has shown his passing ability on many occasions. Claudio Gonzalez has been touted as one of the most exciting central midfielders for decades and yet he still struggles to get picked before Pastore. While Adrian Heinze is the next big thing, but falls below Aguero and Higuain within the Argentina pecking order.

We are here and ready for the opening game which is of course the hosts, Russia vs Japan. Before kick-off, lets just take a sneak peak at the groups and see who has drawn who. I would suggest all the favourites will qualify with relative ease, but England may have the toughest test with both Croatia and Uruguay.

World Cup group F – Argentina vs Ghana

Reporter: We kick-off group F with a very exciting match. The World Cup holders, Ghana, will take on the Copa America champions Argentina. Both nations have enjoyed recent success and remain inside the top 10 World rankings. However, it is Argentina who carry the better hand. Their squad while full of experience is also refreshed by young talent. Ghana on the other hand are left to rely on the heroes of 2014 with very little youth coming through their system. The Ghana squad has an average age of 28 while the Argentine’s enjoy an average age of 26. The match will be starting shortly, so lets take a quick look at the starting line-ups. Argentina have gone for their familiar 4-5-1, while Ghana are using a very predictable 4-4-2.

Argentina starting lineup: GK: Romero – DR: Simon, DL: Insua, DC: Galeano, DC: Otamendi – CM: Mascherano, CM: Millemaggi, CM: Pastore – RW: Messi, LW: Becerra – ST: Aguero

Ghana starting lineup: GK: Gyan – DR: Vandam, DL: Addy, DC: Mensah, DC: Boye – RM: Quansah, LM: A. Ayew, CM: Essien, CM: Asamoah – ST: Ayeh, ST: Osei

While Argentina will have expected an easy ride in Spartak, they endured an early scare. Ghana’s main strike threat, Osei, linked up well with Essien to take an early lead. Unfortunately for the Africans, Smith’s men saw this as a wake up call and hit top gear. Becerra showed his class with two goals and an assist. Messi also played well, while Argentina’s third star, Aguero never really got going. While Argentina failed to dominate possession, they certainly dominated in terms of shots with 24 to Ghana’s 10.

World Cup group F – Hondorus vs Argentina

After despatching what seems like Argentina’s main threat, they now face Hondorus. This match has the potential to be a goal bonanza, Smith’s opponents lye 21st in the world rankings and have an ageing squad that averages 31 years old. Pre-match reports suggest Smith may make a few changes, but will keep his attacking trio in tact using a 4-5-1. The hotly touted Cavallo and Rivero enter the scene in midfield, while both full backs are switched…Darren is well known for resting his full backs and likes a fresh back four. The match is about to get under way, so stay tuned for kick-off after this commercial break.

Like lambs been lead to the slaughter, poor Honduras never stood a chance in this match. The opening goal just summed it all up, as Galeano found Otamendi in acres of space during the 6th minute. It was harsh to award this as an own goal, but there was no doubting who would claim the second. Messi scored a sensational strike after Cavallo and Rivero enjoyed some freedom in the middle. Argentina’s third and fourth goals came from training ground routines, while the fifth was down to some Messi magic. The 5-0 scoreline was just enhanced by Argentina’s shots which tallied 23 to Honduras’ one. The other match in group F saw Scotland beat Ghana, leaving Argentina top and Scotland second on goal difference. The last game would decide who claimed top spot, but both sides have qualified for the Second Round.

World Cup group F – Scotland vs Argentina

Here we are, the last group game and just one off the second round. Both sides will be delighted to have qualified, but should seize the initiative for top spot. This could well lead to an easier draw later in the competition. During yesterdays interview, the Argentina manager hinted at resting the influential Messi for this tie. Questions remain over the stars fitness and Smith’s ability under pressure as many see this as a big mistake. Scotland are no pushovers, they are currently number 8 in the World rankings and were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup to eventual winners Ghana. Smith seems set to keep faith in his 4-5-1, with Scotland set on playing a 4-4-2. The game will be starting soon, so lets have a glance over the starting line ups.

Argentina starting lineup: GK: Romero – DR: Simon, DL: Ortiz, DC: Galeano, DC: Otamendi – CM: Mascherano, CM: Millemaggi, CM: Pastore – RW: Vella, LW: Becerra – ST: Aguero

Scotland starting lineup: GK: Gordon – DR: J. Wilson, DL: Easton, DC: D. Wilson, DC: Berra – RM: Snodgrass, LM: Driver, CM: McArthur, CM: D. Fletcher – ST: Carroll, ST: S.Fletcher

After taking an early lead through Becerra, Argentina looked set to win this one. However, the pride of Scotland is not to be underestimated and this is the mistake Smith’s men made. Some defensive problems were shown here today and that will not please Argentina’s manager. The World Cup is usually won by a solid squad, but Argentina looked quite the opposite during their last group game. The game ended 1-1, but Smith will have a lot to think about before his Second Round draw.

Argentina seemed to be waltzing through this tournament until a galvanised Scotland held them to a draw. While Smith watched his side finish first, he seemed concerned during their last group game. Ghana will be disappointed by the early exit, but Honduras will probably just want to forget they even qualified.

World Cup second round draw

Reporter: The World Cup is unique in that each team knows their path through the tournament from the off. For those of you who don’t already know, lets take a look at the second round draw. The hosts Russia face a tough task in Italy, while favourites Spain have an easy looking ride against Morocco. Portugal and France look set for a tasty encounter, but Argentina vs England will be the tie of the round. Smith will have been hoping for an easier opponent, but you have to beat the best to be the best.

World Cup second round – Argentina vs England

We are live from Moscow, as two of the worlds biggest rivals clash. Argentina and England have experienced some heated ties, including historic moments like the hand of god and David Beckham’s crazy moment during 1998 that saw him sent off. The most recent encounter was last year when the two nations clashed in the Confederations Cup semi-final. That finished 2-0 to Argentina, but this match is predicted to be much closer. The influential Becerra is missing today, but Smith is set to field an almost full strength squad, alongside his successful 4-5-1. Kick-off is on the way, but lets take a look at the starting line ups.

Argentina starting lineup: GK: Romero – DR: Simon, DL: Ortiz, DC: Galeano, DC: Otamendi – CM: Rivero, CM: Millemaggi, CM: Pastore – RW: Messi, LW: Gonzalez – ST: Aguero

England starting lineup: GK: Hart – DR: Richards, DL: Gibbs, DC: Spence, DC: P. Jones – DMC: S. Smith – CM: Shelvey, CM: Huddlestone – RW: Walcott, LW: Milner – ST: Rooney

What an action packed match. Pastore’s amazing run and finish started the scoring, before Becerra showed some composure to make it 2-0. England found a way back on the 81st minute through wonderkid Smith, but it was too late. The match finished 2-1 and Argentina qualified for the quarter-final. This was a very tight match, and Argentina will be worried by Vella’s sending off and Aguero’s early injury. Thankfully the striker will be fine and just suffered a minor knock.

World Cup second round results

The World Cup can be cruel sometimes, but we are yet to see any major upsets. The closest we came was Egypt taking Chile to penalties, but the South Americans came through a tough tie. The whole of Russia saw this tournament as an ideal opportunity been hosts, but Italy put an end to any dreams with a 4-1 thrashing. Spain and Holland met all expectations making it through to the quarter-final with ease. While an even looking match between Croatia and Scotland ended 3-1 to the Scots.  France had an extremely tough match against Portugal, but showed why they are amongst the favourites with a 1-0 victory. Where as Brazil enjoyed an easy ride versus Mexico and progress with a high profile list of countries.

Reporter: After overcoming their biggest challenge yet, Argentina have made it to the quarter-final. Injuries and suspensions have threatened but not stood in Smith’s way, however as the rounds come thick and fast fitness may be on the Englishmen’s mind. After the break we’ll be assessing the quarter-final draw.

To be continued…



  1. fmcrazy

    March 23, 2011 at 13:37

    Brilliant stuff, disappointing Scotland result and you just held on against Rngland, maybe it wont be as easy for you as I originally thought!
    Cant wait for the second part!

    • Darren Smith

      March 23, 2011 at 18:30

      Hey buddy, I must admit this tournament has been a slap in the face :) I thought we’d waltz through it, but every game seems to be a struggle. Must be the added pressure of the World Cup.

  2. Herman

    March 23, 2011 at 13:56

    Hey Darren ^_^

    I haven’t been commenting but i’ll have you know i’ve been following the site :P
    The Scotland result sucked but i can’t help but feel you’re gonna win the World Cup!

    As for myself (:P), i feel that playing more is really improving my ability to win. It’s been 4 seasons with my favourite Chelsea, i now have 7 trophies to my name, including 3 FA cups in a row! Unfortunately i haven’t got any luck in the CL and EPL, finishing 2nd best in the league on 2 occasions. Furthest in the CL i got was the semis, when i was destroyed my unfancied Marseille after tweaking with my tactics :(

    Talking about tactics, i have been smashing goals left and right with a revolutionary 2-2-2-2-2. Sounds weird? I like to call it my flying fullbacks formation xD unfortunately i haven’t good a half decent record against united, 1 win, 10 losses in 13! Any tips? ;)

    • Darren Smith

      March 23, 2011 at 18:34

      Hi Herman, long time no speak, good to hear from you mate.

      You’re right the Scotland result was my most disappointing since taking charge, but we’re still in with a shout.

      Great to hear you are enjoying the game, experience just makes it better and easier. Seems like you have a few things to iron out, but are close to dominating with Chelsea. I too struggle against Man Utd, unless your using my tactic I don’t know how to advise. Just be sure to set the assistants opponent instructions and use ‘you can win this’ team talk when your not the favourites.

  3. Sears

    March 23, 2011 at 16:31

    I can’t believe how talented some of those regen’s are! Argentina consentingly produce amazing regen’s in the game, and along with Messi, Aguero and co you certainly have the potential to be WC winners. Judging by the teams who have qualified for the quarter final, it will be a daunting battle to lift the crown but I’m optimistic that you can prevail. Good luck buddy!!

    • Darren Smith

      March 23, 2011 at 18:36

      Thanks Sears, Argentina have an incredible side. Like I’ve already said, this World Cup is much tougher than I imagines. I pictured us thrashing everyone but its far from that. Still, I love a good challenge.

  4. Sayam Khan

    March 23, 2011 at 18:40

    Yikes! Those Argentina regens are amazing and some can’t get in your team! Well done on beating England, good luck!

    • Darren Smith

      March 24, 2011 at 11:42

      Thanks Sayam, the squad is amazing and yeh most of the younger ones struggle to get a game. Great to have as super subs though. :)

  5. kevin

    March 24, 2011 at 08:06

    Hi Darren
    A very exciting World Cup report so far and apart from that glitch against Scotland your squad has the quality to take the ultimate prize in sport. Looking forward to the the nest installment to see if Pastore can pull of another blistering run and gol !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Darren Smith

      March 24, 2011 at 11:44

      Cheers Kevin, lets hope the Scotland result is behind us and there won’t be more glitches. Hopefully I can keep the key players fit too. :)

  6. Timmy

    March 24, 2011 at 13:34

    The title challenger team come again
    they will demolish any team
    you better watch this team
    b’cause this team is amazing
    so,run as fast as you can
    b’cause you will be demolished!
    so easy game,huh(except england)
    good luck :)
    (btw i already see world cup trophy from here)

    • Darren Smith

      March 24, 2011 at 18:48

      lol, thanks for the vote of confidence Timmy, we certainly have a great chance but it won’t be as easy as I first thought. :)

  7. CsAtlantis

    March 24, 2011 at 22:43

    Come on now Darren, it won’t be fun ;) if you win the World Cup without breaking a sweat

    What happened to Vella anyway, I think I’ve never noticed him getting sent off

    Scotland have defeated Croatia 3-1 in the Second Round, looks like they are pretty strong this time around

    • Darren Smith

      March 25, 2011 at 08:18

      lol ;) I agree 100% mate. While I’m surprised by the resistance put up by other teams, I’m also happy to fight for the biggest honour.

      Vella is still in the team and playing from the bench and as rotation for Messi on the right. With Becerra and Messi I have the two strongest wingers in the world, so poor Vella has to wait for his games. :) Scotland could be the surprise package this year, but competition is very strong.

  8. Laxeyman

    March 25, 2011 at 16:33

    Good going Darren, apart from the Scotland game you’ve done very well, and I reckon you will win the world cup now, with so many great players you’ve got an unbelievable chance. Good luck!

    • Darren Smith

      March 25, 2011 at 18:19

      Thanks Laxeyman, we certainly are capable but need to hope for a good draw too I reckon.

  9. Johnny Karp

    March 25, 2011 at 23:40

    So far so good, the World Cup is also about endurance and I think that your team will start to find the deadly form in the later stages. Becerra seems to be extremely good, even better than Messi from what I saw in the highlights. Looking forward to the next episode, best of luck!

    • Darren Smith

      March 25, 2011 at 23:54

      Thanks Johnny and I can’t agree more. Teams that win the World Cup have stamina and mental strength, thankfully my squad have that in abundance. We also have every player at the perfect age if thats even possible. The pieces are in place but its my job to move them from here on out. Hopefully I won’t make a wrong move.

  10. Vaibhav C.

    March 26, 2011 at 10:36

    Hey Darren
    Great job so far, i hope you can win it! Can you put Messi’s profile up? and Higuain?

    • Darren Smith

      March 26, 2011 at 10:40

      Thanks Vaibhav, the next update will be posted today/tomorrow and I’ve gone into as much detail as possible, this means player profiles on the entire team including my regens. Plus there is a little surprise too. :)

    • Johnny Karp

      March 26, 2011 at 11:00

      I think that you can see Messi’s profile if you click on his name inside the post, it worked for me.

      • Vaibhav C.

        March 26, 2011 at 17:03

        Yeah, how did I miss that? Anyway, I can’t wait for the surprise!

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