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Miralem Pjanic's Impressive Play Not Enough to Overcome Argentina

Bosnia Herzegovina made life uncomfortable for Lionel Messi and Argentina, and though they fell short, that they were even in the match was largely attributable to Miralem Pjanic's steadying and decisive hand in midfield.

Jamie Squire

The schedule makers didn't make it easy for Miralem Pjanic and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Starting off your maiden World Cup voyage against Lionel Messi and Argentina was a tough task for any nation, let alone one still searching for their identity on the global stage. While Messi did his usual thing, including a lovely one-two with Gonzalo Higuain, Pjanic was no slouch himself, calmly guiding the Dragons attack for the full 90 minutes.

While Bosnia and Herzegovina were strong throughout, Messi's magic was simply too much to overcome. In addition to his goal, Messi took 97 touches, completed 80% of his passes, created four scoring chances and pulled off seven successful dribbles.

It's hard to defeat Messi and Co. on an ordinary day, but when you gift them one of these, it becomes infinitely harder...

The Goals

Sead Kolasinac Own Goal 3rd Minute


As far as own goals go, Sead Kolasinac's was about as innocent as they come; it was just the perfect confluence of his body angle, the trajectory of the ball and an unfortunately placed shin.

While Argentina is as talented as nation on earth, give anyone that sort of advantage, and in the third minute no less, and you've got an uphill climb ahead of you.

Lionel Messi 65th Minute

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While I love Roma and Serie A, it's unfortunate that we don't get to talk about Messi around here more often. I mean, good lord, how perfect was that goal? Messi starts the run of play a few meters past midfield and shows a remarkable economy of movement and touch, taking no more than three dribbles before pushing it ahead to Higuain.

Higuain then does his best Totti impression, tapping it back to Messi, who then unleashed this...


Just look at how he evades Ermin Bicakcic's Ninja Turtle style tackle attempt and puts the ball in the only place it could  conceivably beat the keeper.

Vedad Ibisevic 84th Minute

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BIH displayed a bit of their magic on Ibisevic's goal, as Senad Lulic slipped a lovely ball past three Argentine defenders, finding Ibisevic in stride who barely, and I mean barely, put enough on it to trickle into the goal.

While Bosnia was never meant to match Argentina's star power, they made more than a few Albiceleste fans in the Maracana uncomfortable, and much of that was due to Pjanic's steady hand in midfield.

Pjanic's 78 touches led Bosnia by a wide margin, and were fourth most in the match. Not only did Pjanic complete 92% of his passes in total, but he was crisp and decisive from a variety of angles and positions, hitting on 80% of his crosses and 75% of his long balls. He was, for all intents and purposes, BIH's Andrea Pirlo; dictating the pace and direction of Bosnia's play from a slightly withdrawn position.

Pjanic and Bosnia-Herzegovina will look to rebound Saturday when they take on Nigeria, a match in which they should be favored to win.