Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Argentina’s Player Ratings vs. Nigeria

2014 World Cup: Argentina's Player Ratings vs. Nigeria

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Even though Argentina were already qualified before the match, coach Alejandro Sabella fielded his best players in order to try and reverse the disappointing image they had left in other games. On offense, their first 60 minutes led by Lio Messi were fantastic. Unfortunately, defense is still a completely different story. Find out how each Argentine player did in their final match against Nigeria.

GK - Sergio Romero

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GK - Sergio Romero

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Sergio Romero came into the tournament being highly questioned by Argentine fans, but he leaves the group stage as one of Argentina's best players. There was little he could do in either Nigerian goal, and he managed to stop the other few chances they had. 7 out of 10 for Romero.

RB - Pablo Zabaleta

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RB - Pablo Zabaleta

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Even though both of Nigeria's goals came from Zabaleta's side, there was little he could do against Musa's fantastic goals. While he was beat fair and square in both goals, he also had a number of key interventions throughout the game. He won every header off a goal kick and was able to go on forward runs when the play called for it. 7 out of 10 for Zabaleta.

CB - Federico Fernandez

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CB - Federico Fernandez

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Federico Fernandez was definitely Argentina's worst defender. He was too slow for the fast Nigerian forwards, and he never used his strength and size to his advantage. His coverages were often lazy, as can be seen in Nigeria's second goal when Fernandez let Musa pass him like nothing. Coach Alejandro Sabella will have to seriously reconsider his spot on the starting XI. 4 out of 10 for Fernandez.

CB - Ezequiel Garay

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CB - Ezequiel Garay

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Much like his defensive partner, Ezequiel Garay was disappointing for Argentina. Whenever Emenike had the ball, Garay seemed helpless in stopping him. He was oddly out of position at times and lost a couple of headers. But he wasn't as bad as Fernandez, as Garay at least made good coverages to avoid a Nigerian tie. 5 out of 10 for Garay.

LB - Marcos Rojo

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LB - Marcos Rojo

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Much like the majority of the Argentine defense, Marcos Rojo is judged for not providing much offense while defending at a subpar level. But fortunately for Rojo, neither issue was on display against Nigeria. He defended his side well and had a couple of interesting runs off the ball. And, with a huge amount of luck, he managed to score Argentina's winning goal. 7 out of 10 for Rojo.

CM - Fernando Gago

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CM - Fernando Gago

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Fernando Gago is, statistically speaking, Messi's favorite teammate. There isn't a player who gives more passes to him than Gago. And that would accurately describe Gago's game. He's the perfect link-up between the defense and the midfield and then from the midfield to Messi. He constantly moved around the field to make himself open for passes. His defense today wasn't up-to-par, though, leading to easy Nigerian attacks. 7 out of 10 for Gago.

CDM - Javier Mascherano

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CDM - Javer Mascherano

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The world has gotten so used to seeing Javier Mascherano as a center-back at Barcelona that we've forgotten how good he is as a midfielder. His timing on tackles, positioning and anticipation are second to none. He managed to stop a number of Nigerian counter-attacks and took the liberties of giving great direct passes to Lio Messi or di Maria. His only mistake was not tracking down Muso in Nigieria's second goal. 8 out of 10 for Mascherano.

CM - Angel di Maria

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CM - Angel di Maria

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If there was a player on the field who deserved a goal, it was Angel di Maria. He was a nightmare on the left wing, using his blazing speed to dribble past defenders, put in dangerous crosses and create chance after chance for Argentina. As if his efforts on offense weren't enough, he made a habit of dropping down to help out on defense as much as he could. 8.5 out of 10 for di Maria.

CAM - Lionel Messi

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CAM - Lionel Messi

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Although Lio Messi had already scored in Argentina's past two games, he didn't have performances like this one. He finally showed the speed, dribbling and vision that make him the best in the world. He scored two beautiful goals, and if it weren't for Vincent Enyeama, it could have been four. When Messi plays like this, Argentina become almost unstoppable. 9 out of 10 for Lio Messi.

ST - Sergio Aguero

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ST - Sergio Aguero

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It was an unfortunate match for Sergio Aguero, who was injured before he was able to leave his mark on the match. Before leaving the match he had a few good touches but was never a serious threat to the Nigerian defense. He seems to be lost as a starter next to Messi and Higuain. 4 out of 10 for Aguero.

ST - Gonzalo Higuain

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ST - Gonzalo Higuain

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Gonzalo Higuain fought and ran all game, but his final touch was never there for him. He had multiple opportunities to score off passes from Messi, but he was either stopped by Enyeama or didn't finish the play right. But you can count on Higuain to always give it his all, goal or not. 5 out of 10 for Higuain.

Sub - Ezequiel Lavezzi

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Sub - Ezequiel Lavezzi

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Ezequiel Lavezzi completely changed the Argentine offense with his entrance. Before his substitution, Argentina were a bit stagnant and way too centralized. They needed to open up the field with a speedy winger, and Lavezzi did just that. He was always an option on either flank of Messi and managed to get the header in for Argentina's third goal. He made a case for a spot in the starting XI. 8 out of 10 for Lavezzi.

Sub - Ricky Alvarez

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Sub - Ricky Alvarez

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He came in the middle of the second half for Lio Messi when the game had already dropped a few notches with both teams taking it easy. Despite this, he managed to show off his skill with the ball at his feet a couple of times, creating fouls in favor of Argentina. He had a great chance to score but over-dribbled the chance away. 6 out of 10 for Ricky Alvarez.