When Argentina and Iran meet on Saturday in Belo Horizonte, Lionel Messi will be making his 88th cap for the national team. While his goal-scoring record for Argentina is not quite what it is for his club team, FC Barcelona, he still averages about a goal every two games. Against Iran, though, Messi will look to demonize the defense and finish every chance he can get. The Iranians are coming off a 0-0 draw against Nigeria where they showed decent defensive prudence, but were inefficient with the ball and lacked the necessary creativity to create good goal-scoring opportunities. Argentina should dominate this match and anything less than three points will be unacceptable for Alejandro Sabella's side. 

Argentina are perhaps the strongest attacking force at this years World Cup. With Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, and Angel di Maria at the helm, few national teams, if any, can muster the attacking prowess that Argentina possesses. But it is in defense where the Argentines are lacking. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero showed his inconsistency when he let in a soft goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Argentinas 2-1 victory. That said, this match against Iran will most likely be conducted mostly in the Iranian half, and it will be up to the attacking players to engineer chances and goals -- something that this team has sometimes failed to do. The Iranians will most likely get 11 men behind the ball, but even that may not be enough to stop the vicious Argentina attack. 

Iran enter this game after a scoreless draw against Nigeria. The Iranians showed little in the form of creative build-up play and struggled to create chances in front of goal. And it won't get much easier against Argentina. Argentinian defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano will be tasked with regaining the ball every time it is lost and the Iranians will have to work extremely hard without the ball to maintain defensive shape and organization. While they were able to keep Nigeria off the score sheet, the ferocious Argentina attack will not be so easy to deter. Expect the Iranians to falter early and often. 

Argentina will wish to score as many goals as possible against this weak Iran squad, in an attempt to build confidence for the remainder of the tournament. If Messi can get off to a good start and score early, this game can end with a very high scoreline. The Argentinian quality in attack should be enough to maintain constant pressure on the Iranian defense, which will undoubtedly falter at some point or another. This match should be a formality for the Argentines, but for the rest of us, it might be the most entertaining game yet. 

My Prediction: 4-0 Argentina

Beting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada.lv)

Argentina: -2.5 (+115) //  (-900) Moneyline
Iran: +2.5 (-140) //  (+1800) Moneyline
Draw: +900