Argentina vs Belgium Preview
ARGENTINA – BRINGING BACK THE GLORY
Looking back at the previous World Cup in 2010, Argentina will try and push out their humiliating 0-4 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Germans. Fast forwarding to the present, the La Albiceleste are fresh and packed with talent. Manager Alejandro Sabella has groomed the team well for the tournament. With Barcelona forward and footballing icon Lionel Messi leading his side, there’s no denying the aura that surrounds them.
After the draws were released, it was clear that the White and Sky Blue fell into a rather easy group of teams. Topping the group was their country’s first expectation and they did just that, but of course there were a bunch of hurdles Sabella’s side had to cross deep into the matches. They swept past Bosnia and Iran, winning by a lone goal margin on each occasion. Despite what the scoreline depicts, Argentina were the clear favorites to win, also adding the statistics into play, they dominated. It’s only a point of their opponent holding down their end quite rigidly. Their final group match against Nigeria was a big barrier to cross. Within a minute of scoring both goals in the second half, Nigeria were replying instantly at the other end. Once the second half began, Argentina controlled the game after Rojo scored the winning goal in the 50th minute. Moving onto the pre quarters, the La Albiceleste went up against the Swiss. They too like Nigeria, posed a big threat to their World Cup ambitions. 90 mins of standard play wasn’t enough for both teams and matters carried over to extra time. Both were evenly matched up till that point and regardless of Argentina going through on Di Maria’s goal in the dying mins of extra time, Switzerland were dominant and Argentina will have to sum up a big performance to play out against Belgium today.
Lionel Messi has been incredible this WC around. With 4 matches and counting, he’s managed to pick up 4 goals out the entire 6 goals his team has scored in the entire competition. Including that, his assist for Di Maria goal shot in the knockout stages against the Swiss was phenomenal. The pace and precision with which the rolled over to his feet is jaw dropping. Goalkeeper Romero has been decent thus far, a bunch of saves and then again one or two unforced errors which might cost the game for his side is dangerous. Zabaleta has been doing the physical job back in the defense quite well and with Belgium up next, it will be an easy task in stopping those lobbed crosses.
DARK HORSES THROUGHOUT – BELGIUM
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about the Belgium squad is ‘talent’ and it is oozing out in every corner of the team. With experienced captain and Manchester City defender, Vincent Kompany, there to lead the side, nothing can possibly go wrong. They’ve entered the competition with a certain ‘dark horse’ tagline and have their eyes set on the prize. Manager Marc Wilmots has done an incredible job at crafting the team into what it is at the moment and can actually bring the country on the biggest platform there is and take home all the glory.
Talking about the group stages, Belgium, also like Argentina, fell into a relatively easier group than most other top flight teams. The bar was set very high and results started flowing. They topped the table with a maximum of 9 points, sweeping Algeria, Russia and Korea Republic. Of three opponents, Algeria, who also qualified, gave a tough competition. Adding to that, Belgium, being a top class team should be winning by a margin of 2 to 3 goals. But they seem to be a little shaky and unstable at the start of each match before everyone gets their liquid flowing. The round of 16 saw them go up against USA. Tim Howard was living the night, saving every goal attempt Belgium tried to make. When 90 mins of play wasn’t sufficient, extra time banged some spirit into both teams and Lukaku’s goal ended up edging them through to the quarter finals.
Atletico Madrid keeper, Thibaut Courtois has been brilliant this WC thus far. Letting in only 2 goals in the 4 matches that he has played, keeping in mind the numerous saves he’s made is fantastic. A disappointment though would be Lukaku who should be the goal scoring machine this team needs, but lack lustre performances has paved way for Origi to play in starting XI and he had proven his worth by putting his 100%. Eden Hazard has to be more towards assists rather than going in on goal just to be blocked by a defender’s back every single time.
Argentina vs Belgium Prediction
Tough match to predict but Messi & co has a slight edge (atleast on paper).
Argentina 3 – 2 Belgium