After an exhausting period of extra-time for both sides in their recent matches, Argentina and Belgium will be hoping to get the better of the other in their upcoming quarter-final match in Brasilia on Saturday evening.
The Argentinians only just managed to beat Switzerland in the round of 16 after a brilliant run from Lionel Messi led to an assist for Angel di Maria’s winning goal. Alejandro Sabella’s side haven’t found it easy in the World Cup so far and there has been a clear over-reliance on their captain to somehow get them the victory. They will be facing another well organised side in Belgium and the rest of the team will have to pull their weight if they are to go through.
Belgium also had a difficult time in their round of 16 game against the so-called “plucky” USA. They often got the ball into dangerous positions for the Americans but couldn’t find their way past Tim Howard in the USA goal. It’s debatable whether the Argentinian defence will be as tough to break down but Belgium’s attack has been fairly underwhelming so far and they will have to step up to counter the likes of Messi and Di Maria.
Sergio Aguero is still suffering with a hamstring injury and is unlikely to play any part for Argentina in this match. The squad should otherwise be fully available for selection to the starting line-up.
Similarly in the Belgium side, Thomas Vermaelen is also suffering with a hamstring injury and it’s not looking good for him in terms of playing against Argentina.
- Argentina have scored seven goals in the World Cup so far and Messi has been directly involved with five of them (four goals and one assist).
- This is Belgium’s first quarter-final appearance since 1986, when they were knocked out by Diego Maradona’s Argentina side.
- This will only be the third time the two countries have played each other at a World Cup and they are both currently sitting on one win each.
Argentina – Lionel Messi
Messi has been Argentina’s key player in every Argentina match we have previewed so far but it’s no surprise why. The number 10 has made a major impact at this World Cup and has answered his critics by taking his country to this stage of the tournament almost single-handedly. His four goals and one assist mean there is only two goals he hasn’t directly involved in. According to Squawka.com however, he only has a shot accuracy of 46%. He has done much better in other areas however, creating 18 chances for his team mates and averaging an 82% pass accuracy. Belgium’s players have already gave interviews in the last couple of days about how they have to stop Messi if they are to go through to the next round. Let’s see if they follow their own advice.
Belgium – Divock Origi
Origi has been of the tournament’s promising young players and has arguably outshone Romelu Lukaku in the frontline of Belgium’s attack. He has only scored one goal so far but the skill he has shown has shown his potential to become a top striker in the future. According to Squawka.com he has been accurate with 78% of his shots and has averaged with an 81% pass accuracy. However, he has only created three chances for his team mates and has only won 45% of his duels. That being said, he definitely has the ability to exploit Argentina’s average defence and cause trouble for Sabella’s team.
I think it will be a close game between the two and can see it going to extra-time yet again. However, I’m not sure that even an extra 30 minutes will separate the two and so I think the game will go to penalties after a 1-1 draw, with Argentina ultimately going through to the semi-final ahead of Belgium.