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Good afternoon everybody. I’m Jonathan Stevenson, I’m in Johannesburg and about eight miles up the road, the World Cup’s about to get a little bit Messi…
Argentina: Romero, Gutierrez, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze, Veron, Mascherano, Di Maria, Tevez, Messi, Higuain.
Subs: Pozo, Rodriguez, Burdisso, Bolatti, Garce, Otamendi, Aguero, Palermo, Milito, Maxi, Pastore, Andujar.
Nigeria: Enyeama, Odiah, Yobo, Shittu, Taiwo, Kaita, Etuhu, Haruna, Obasi Ogbuke, Yakubu, Obinna.
Subs: Ejide, Kanu, Afolabi, Utaka, Martins, Ideye, Odemwingie, Uche, Yussuf, Echiejile, Adeleye, Aiyenugbu.
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
With a wealth of attacking options at his disposal, Argentina coach Diego Maradona has gone with a front three of Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City. Newcastle's Jonas Gutierrez starts at right-back. Bolton's Danny Shittu and Joseph Yobo of Everton are the Nigeria defenders tasked with shackling Messi and co. Fulham's Dickson Etuhu plays in the centre of midfield, with Yobo's club team-mate Yakubu Aiyegbeni starting up front with Victor Obinna, meaning there is no place for either Nwankwo Kanu or Obefami Martins.
"The players love Diego Maradona - Argentina players, the other team's players, everyone! But I think the brains of this Argentine side right now is probably [assistant boss] Carlos Bilardo."
Come on then, let's be having you. Usual rules apply for getting in touch: I'm on Twitter @Stevo_football; you can send texts to 81111 (UK) and +44 7786200666 (worldwide); and the 606 debate is already raging.
Don’t worry, there will be plenty of pre-England v USA chat throughout the afternoon, but it seems only fair to concentrate on the second Group B contest of the day as Argentina take on Nigeria. All eyes, then, on two of the biggest superstars at this or indeed any World Cup – Diego Armando Maradona and Lionel Andres Messi. Frankly, as I tried to find out, anything could happen.
From dujek: "After the performances from France and Greece I'm looking forward to some real football. Prediction - 5-3 Argentina."
If you don’t know much about either team, why not check out our handy team guides on Argentina and Nigeria? There also also videos for your delectation – UK web only and international versions of Argentina and UK web only and international versions of Nigeria. It’s boot-filling time. Make haste!
"Kanu is my inspiration, he is the player I looked up to when I was growing up and I'm so happy for him that he is at this World Cup. He is one of the greatest African players of all."
On 25 June, 1994, Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 in the group stage at the World Cup in USA. The winner, after 29 minutes, was scored by Claudio Caniggia after a fine pass from Diego Maradona, then the Albiceleste captain. Five days later, Maradona was thrown out of the tournament by Fifa after failing a drugs test. The game against Nigeria was his 91st and final cap. Today, El Diego returns to the World Cup fold - and he's got unfinished business.
The players are out at Ellis Park in Johannesburg for the fourth (already??) match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, led by their captains Javier Mascherano and Joseph Yobo. I'm too excited for words. Almost.
The Argentina players link up for their national anthem. They look focused, while their fans jubilantly bounce up and down. This is what the World Cup is about. The Nigerians have their right hands on their hearts, looking every bit as much like they mean business.
Warning: if you don't like Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi, this might not be the place to be. Maradona, wearing a dark grey suit, looks like a gangster with his earring and greying beard. It's hard to imagine how much this occasion means to the man.
We are under way at Ellis Park. Hold on to your hats.
Lionel Messi jinks past one challenge in his first action of the game, but his ball to Carlos Tevez enables Nigeria to clear their lines.
Chance. Chinedu Obasi easily does Jonas Gutierrez down the Nigeria left and fizzes a left-foot shot past the far post from a tight angle. Gutierrez at right-back - seriously?
There goes Diego, jumping around the touchline - he could have scored that in his sleep. Lionel Messi bursts past three static Nigerian players on the left and passes into the box - but from six yards, Gonzalo Higuain can only side-foot wide. Wasteful.
Wow, what a start. Nigeria give the ball away cheaply in their own half and from 20 yards Lionel Messi curls towards the top corner, only for Vincent Enyeama to tip over.
They deserve it, you can't argue with that. Argentina have made a brilliant start and from a corner from their right, former Man Utd defender Gabriel Heinze produces a stunning diving header from the penalty spot into the top corner.
From Logos: "Brilliant header from Heinze. Have to say Argentina look pretty good going forward with fluidity that I never saw them play with in qualifying. Messi looks brilliant as ever. Nigeria just look out of their depth."
Argentina have been dominant - but they still look susceptible at the back. Victor Obinna gets into space down the right, but his cross is touched behind by Walter Samuel and the corner comes to nothing.
"It looked like zonal marking on the edge of the box from Nigeria and it didn't work at all. Heinze has always been dangerous with headers from set-pieces and I'm surprised they left him with so much space."
Lionel Messi just gave the ball away with a poor first touch. That is all.
Juan Veron plays a sumptuous pass into the path of Lionel Messi, it's a 40-yard cracker, but the ball bounces a bit too high for the Barca man and Vincent Enyeama gathers.
From Gaz: "Is it just me or does Maradona look like a spaghetti western villain?"
Bang on. Great look for him though, isn't it?
How much must Lionel Messi want a goal to silence the doubters that remain? The little man cuts in from the right, all the time the ball on the most magical left foot seen at a World Cup since that belonging to his current manager, and curls a shot towards the bottom corner that Vincent Enyeama tips away.
"I thought I looked nervous on the sidelines at Everton but Maradona looks even worse at the moment!"
Vincent Enyeama is making an early case for goalkeeper of the tournament - he races from his line to make a fine save once more, this time to prevent Gonzalo Higuain's goalbound shot going in. Busy, busy, busy.
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty: "England fans have definitely arrived in Rustenburg - complete with some opportunist locals. "Earplugs For Sale" signs outside ground."
Vincent Enyeama goes down for a brief moment, but the keeper should be OK to continue. Walter Samuel heads a corner into the ground and over the bar - the Argies could be out of sight by now. If you want a different kind of min-by-min commentary, there's one right here.
Diego Maradona prowls the touchline - he looks like he's itching to get on and showcase his skills. He looks angry - perhaps a touch bemused Argentina aren't leading by more than 1-0.
The Nigerians are getting chances too, though. The ball falls on the left of the area to Chinedu Obasi, but he drags a shot past the far post, much to the annoyance of the Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback.
From Blueboyrob: "As fearsome as the Argentina attack is, unless they sort out there defensive frailties they will go nowhere in this tournament. They appear to have no defensive cohesion and will pay the penalty against better teams, if not against Nigeria today."
"Some of the people inside this ground right now simply cannot believe they are watching the likes of Lionel Messi with their own eyes, that Diego Maradona is right there in front of them."
The pace of the game has slowed down a touch, which probably suits Nigeria more than it does Argentina. We haven't seen much of flying Benfica winger Angel di Maria so far.
Diego Maradona is furiously remonstrating with a Fifa official. Takes you back, doesn't it? He's been waiting for this moment for the last 16 occasionally troubled years of his life.
Brilliant. Lionel Messi takes a quick free-kick out on the right, plays a one-two, cuts in from the right and forces another wonderful fingertip save from Vincent Enyeama with the ball heading for the top corner. Just fabulous football all round.
"The way Argen
Argentina got their 2010 World Cup campaign off to a winning start and silenced some of their doubters with a dominant performance against Nigeria in Johannesburg.
While not quite the sum of their supremely talented parts, Diego Maradona's side were able to capitalise on the space fatally afforded them by their opponents to register a well-deserved victory, secured through a headed goal from Gabriel Heinze.
Nigeria had their chances, primarily down the left where makeshift Argentine right-back Jonas Gutierrez was often exposed, but forward Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi was wasteful.
A vociferous Ellis Park crowd showed their appreciation for the entertainment on show, particularly that provided by Argentine forward Lionel Messi, who was the standout performer, creating opportunities for others and on a number of occasions drawing superb saves from impressive Super Eagles keeper Vincent Enyeama.
South Korea's comfortable 2-0 win over Greece in Group B's other fixture on Saturday means the winner of next Thursday's match between them and Argentina will be in pole position to qualify for the last 16.
Such an outcome would represent an extremely satisfying stride forward for an Argentina side who have polarised opinion in the build up to this tournament between those who identify them as challengers because of the sheer abundance of talent in their ranks and those who hark back to a turbulent qualifying campaign and the perceived flaws in coach Maradona as reasons to write them off.
While Maradona remained a lively source of fascination on the touchlines, his heir apparent, and the man predicted by many to stamp his authority on this World Cup as his iconic coach did in Mexico in 1986, Barcelona's Fifa World Player of the Year Messi, was a magnetic focal point on the pitch.
Operating in a front three alongside Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City - a trio that has scored 105 club goals between them this season - Messi produced a performance befitting of his billing.
Twice in the first 20 minutes Messi ran at the Nigeria defence and provided scoring opportunities for Higuain, but the first the Real Madrid striker put past the near post from three yards out and then saw his angled drive from further out blocked by Enyeama.
Sandwiched between these two chances Argentina took the lead. Tevez's superb curling shot wad tipped over by Enyeama for a corner, from which Juan Sebastian Veron provided the cross for Heinze to dive in unmarked and head home.
The South Americans remained the more likely to score, but they were either wasteful or unable to beat Enyeama, who kept his side as a credible threat in the match with further impressive saves from Higuain and Messi.
Nigeria's preparations for this tournament have been far from ideal, with Swede Lars Lagerback effectively given only three weeks to prepare his squad for the tournament after replacing Shaibu Amodu as coach and star midfielder John Mikel Obi ruled out with a knee injury but they remained committed to the cause throughout.
Had Obasi been better able to capitalise on the poor positional play of Gutierrez with greater accuracy in his shooting in the first half, Taye Taiwo's toe-poke shot been a foot to the left, or had substitute Kala Uche shown greater composure when unmarked to keep his shot under the bar late on the Africans could have salvaged what would have been an undeserved draw.
There was still time in the final few minutes for Messi to slightly blot his copybook by allowing Enyeama to save from six yards when he should have scored but it is harsh to take away from what was a superb display from the forward and an encouraging victory for Maradona's men.