Argentina v Switzerland Preview

Round of 16 | Tuesday 01 July | Arena Corinthians, São Paulo | 18:00




South American giants Argentina clash with Switzerland on Tuesday as both sides look to reach the quarter-finals. On paper it may seem a one-sided affair but looking at the FIFA Rankings, this could be a testing duel for Argentina as their opponents lie just one place behind their fifth position.

To Win (90mins)
Argentina 5/10 
Draw 32/10 
Switzerland 54/10

ARGENTINA

The race for the World Cup golden boot turned into a Barcelona battle on Wednesday as Lionel Messi scored twice to lead Argentina to an entertaining 3-2 win over Nigeria and match Neymar’s tournament-leading four goals in three games for Brazil.

La Albiceleste will be looking for nothing less than glory in Brazil, but will be hoping to leap over their first hurdle in Switzerland.

Argentina are unbeaten against Switzerland having played them on four occasions, with two victories and two draws.

La Albiceleste were among the favourites going in to the tournament but despite a much-vaunted front four, they have yet to come alive, with the exception of some moments of match-winning magic from Messi.

The Barcelona star will be hoping to lead his country to a third World Cup triumph, with their first two coming in 1978 and 1986.

It seems Argentina have realized that the best position to play Messi is the same as his preferred spot at the Nou Camp.

Instead of trying to slide Messi further away from goal to shoe-horn Argentina’s more traditional strikers onto the field, the team should be catered around Messi and his sublime talents.

A key provider for Messi, Fernando Gago is a talented midfielder with a great eye for the game. The shortage of playing time left him out of Argentina's World Cup squad in 2010.

This time, Gago has been at the heart of Argentina’s midfield. With defenders chasing Messi around, Angel Di Maria makes the most of empty spaces and has run defences ragged.

In fact, anyone who watched Di Maria record 17 assists in La Liga will know that when in full flight, the Argentinian can at times be virtually impossible to stop.

With a squad packed full of talent from Europe's top clubs, Argentina are certainly one of the title contenders at this year's World Cup. 

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup with an impressive 3-0 victory over Honduras courtesy of an exquisite hat-trick from Xhedran Shaqiri.

The Bayern Munich playmaker fired home a brilliant curling opener to set Ottmar Hitzfeld's side on their way before adding to his tally on the half-hour mark following a neat one-two with Josip Drmic.

Shaqiri completed the hat-trick by slotting home Drmic's square ball with twenty minutes to go. Switzerland will be hoping they can build on their momentum and cause an upset against Messi and co. in the next round.

Ottmar Hitzfeld opted to start Sebastian Schar ahead of Philippe Senderos, and the result was an assured defensive display.

Schar may have been Switzerland's top goalscorer in qualifying, but he is also one of their most solid defenders.

With Steve von Bergen's injury having ruled him out of the remainder of the tournament, Schar should be a guaranteed starter in the knockout stages.

Between the sticks, Diego Benaglio may have saved a penalty against France, but he also appeared to be at fault for the first two French goals.

Against Honduras, he looked similarly uneasy. In the first half, he badly miskicked a clearance. A more clinical side than the Hondurans may have punished him more emphatically.

Hitzfeld is a huge admirer of Benaglio and will be keen to retain his experience. However, Benaglio's wobbles could see his first-team place come under threat from talented up-and-comer Yann Sommer.

Drmic made a significant impact against Honduras and will be a key player against Argentina. Drmic is an inexperienced international but has the raw qualities required to flourish.

Betting Prediction: ARGENTINA 5/10
Argentina are overwhelming favourites at 5/10 while Switzerland are priced at 54/10. The attacking options at Alejandro Sabella's disposal are frightening, but teams will feel that they can get at Argentina's defence, with Mascherano likely to play a key role in breaking up play in front of the back four. Argentina should have too much firepower in the end but Switzerland won't just come to defend in what should be an entertaining encounter. Argentina are tipped for the win.

Probable Starting Line-ups:

Argentina (Possible, 4-3-3): Romero; Garay, Zabaleta, Gago, Di Maria; Mascherano, Rojo, Fernandez; Messi, Aguero, Higuain


Switzerland (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Benaglio; Rodriguez, Schar, Djourou, Lichtsteiner; Inler, Behrami; Mehmedi, Xhaka, Shaqiri; Haris Seferovic.

Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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