Three times World Cup Champions Argentina take on high flying Belgium in the Quarter-final of the World Cup, in Estádio Nacional de Brasilia.
Lionel Messi has been Fifa’s Man of the Match in all the four games he has played so far in the tournament. Argentina will be expecting a big performance from him once again, but coach Alejandro Sabella thinks of his team not being a one man show and it’s high time Messi’s teammates rise up to the occasion. Fullback Marcos Rojo is suspended and that might hurt Argentina as they don’t have enough quality replacements at left-back, José Basanta is most likely to replace him in the starting XI. Sergio Aguero is nearly fit but its highly unlikely he’ll start the game. According to Chelsea star player Eden Hazard, they key to to beating Argentina is to stop Messi and he admitted Belgium have a plan to stop him.
“We know the best player in the world is in this team, but we are not afraid,” said the Chelsea playmaker. “We can win. Argentina have done well, but they have one big player who can make the difference every game. If we can stop him, we have a chance, but it will not be easy.
“For me, he is the best in the world. I don’t know how we can stop him, but we will watch videos and we will try to win.
“They have Angel di Maria as well, but Messi is the difference. I haven’t played against him before and I will think about it the night before.
“It’s a big game, maybe the biggest game in my life, and I hope to continue in the World Cup.”
Argentina have won three of their four matches against Belgium, scoring 10 goals and conceding four.
As for Begium, they are the dark horses of the tournament and Argentina can’t afford to take them lightly. Romelu Lukaku is expected to start the game after being dropped against United States. The Chelsea striker scored a goal in the extra-time to help Belgium reach the Quarter finals. Marc Wilmots has a fully fit and suspension fit squad to select from, Mousa Dembele will be hoping to start against Argentina after few poor performances from Manchester United’s Fellaini. Dries Mertens had a poor game against United States and was substituted early, but its unlikely he’ll be dropped for Kevin Mirallas. Skipper Vincent Kompany thinks they have a good chance against Argentina and is hoping for an exciting match.
Kompany said: “If Argentina decide to play their usual attacking game, we’ll have a pretty good chance against them.
“You need two teams to produce an exciting match. The Americans tried to push forward. That’s all we were asking for. It takes two to tango, and they wanted the same thing as us.”
- Argentina have been victorious (via penalties or winning AET) in six of their seven World Cup games that have gone to extra-time.
- Belgium’s six goals in this World Cup have all been scored from the 70th minute onwards.
- Belgium and Argentina have had the most shots in this World Cup (83 and 80 respectively).
- Lionel Messi is the player who has completed the most dribbles at this World Cup (24) and created the most chances for his team-mates (18).
Belgium to win on penalties.